can we talk for a second?: HABITS. annoying ones. the habits we have that annoy ourselves to no end. I know you have some; errbody does. I’ll tell you mine and then you tell me yours. okay?
I have a few: one is a social quirk where I insert laughter after things I say, and I think I do this to enhance a sense of non-threat, kindness, and ease. but really it just makes me feel like I’m being nervous and annoying, especially when the other person doesn’t laugh, and then I think to myself that I shouldn’t behave in such a way that sets up a situation to feel awkward if the other party doesn’t reciprocate as I expect them to, and then I feel even more annoyed with myself and my annoying habits. and then I write about it. whew. okay.
food-wise, one thing that I do that always drives me nuts when I realize I’m doing it is over-seasoning. I’ll just keep adding stuff. ‘oh look lentil pot pie, let’s add all of the herbs and spices that sound on paper like they might go well together, brilliant! I’m like, so fancy, and isn’t this combination of complex flavors so clever?’ NO, SELF. THIS AIN’T A PANTRY INVENTORY CHECK, IT’S YOUR TUESDAY NIGHT DINNER. SLOW YOUR ROLL.
so there’s that. but, dear friends, I think there’s hope. and I should know, because I tasted it in the form of mathanga erissery.
as I often do when I have some ingredients I want to smush together (in this instance, black-eyed peas + pumpkin), I took to the internet in search of inspiration. I stumbled upon a beautiful recipe for a traditional south indian dish of curried pumpkin and black-eyed peas and coconut. I didn’t have the grated coconut the recipe called for, so in place of a coconut paste I used luscious coconut milk. I didn’t have the curry leaves either, and instead of assembling a heavy-handed substitute, I omitted it.
and guess what? it worked beautifully. I didn’t shoot any high-quality photos–I hadn’t actually intended to share this recipe–but I did snap a quick one with my phone before digging in. don’t let its humble appearance fool you; it was incredibly delicious. the flavors of the cumin and turmeric were vibrant and rich in the hot coconut broth, clear and unmuddled. experiencing this dish opened my eyes to the possibility that even with richly spiced food, simple is good.
so, inspired by this experience, I’m putting myself on a trajectory of embracing more simple flavors and combinations. I think I can do this. [ – insert awkward laughter here – ] and as far as my autoannoying social tendancies go, the challenge is a little more daunting and the path a little less paved out in my mind. my goal is to be: unfrilled. to be honest + confident in my sociopolitically unmanicured and unpreened state, to be content communicating kindness, and to have no expectations.
wish me luck.
simple pumpkin + black-eyed pea curry with coconut milk
inspired by this recipe
for the curry:
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 cups cubed pumpkin (I used seminole)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp red chili pepper powder (or cayenne, red pepper flakes)
about 1.5 cups cooked black-eyed peas (from 1/2 cup dry, soaked overnight + cooked // or use 1 can)
1 TBSP coconut oil
2 dried red chilis, or a good pinch of red pepper flakes
heaping 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (slightly cracked with a mortar and pestle if you’re more ambitious than I)
15-20 curry leaves, if you have them
heat coconut milk in a heavy-bottomed skillet with lid over medium heat. add the cubed pumpkin, cumin, turmeric, red chili powder, and salt, then cover and let simmer until pumpkin is just tender.
add the black-eyed peas. stir and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes or so, adding water as needed if the mix seems too thick. remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
the tempering oil:
heat the coconut oil in a small skillet over medium heat. when hot, add the mustard seeds. when they become fragrant, which shouldn’t take long, add the red chilis and the curry leaves, if using. allow to frizzle and fry for thirty seconds or so when everything is fragrant and has become slightly crisp.
pour the finished tempering mixture onto the pumpkin + black-eyed pea curry. stir if you want. serve with rice, cauliflower rice, or by itself in your favorite soup bowls.