September 21, 2010

Caribbean Curry Black Eyed Peas With Plantains

by IsaChandra

In my old neighborhood in Brooklyn the streets were lined with spicy, sexy, West Indian curries. I really miss the tropical flavors, but I don’t miss the feeling of eating a small army’s ration of coconut milk and those deep fried plantains are killer, but they probably will kill you someday. Just a touch of coconut milk really does the job in this revamped dish, and steaming plantains coaxes out its sweet flavor and succulent texture even better than frying does.

Jamaican curries were influenced by Indian curries, but with their own spin on the spice blend. The biggest difference is that Jamaican curry powder calls for star anise. Since preblended Jamaican curry powder can be hard to find, I rigged up this cheater blend simply by adding star anise to a regular old curry powder.

If you can’t find plantains for the life of you, then steam a big sweet potato. Peel and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, steam for about 10 minutes. They’ll give you the touch of sweetness this recipe is looking for.

Habanero peppers are really hot, so proceed with caution. Use gloves when handling and if you’re not absolutely crazy about spicy food, do 1/2 a habanero or a plain old jalapeno for an even milder flavor.

Serve with brown basmati rice. Nutritional info is below.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 to 1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
Pinch cinnamon
About 3 stems of fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light coconut milk
3/4 cup water
16 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon light agave nectar
Juice from about 1/2 a lime

2 very ripe plantains, split lengthwise and cut into 1 inch chunks

Bring your steamer apparatus to a boil and preheat a small, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Saute the shallot, red pepper and habanero in the oil for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and ginger, bay leaf and star anise, and saute about 2 minutes more. Add a splash of water, the curry powder, the cinnamon and thyme stems. Mix for about 30 seconds, just to toast the curry powder a bit.

Add the salt, coconut milk, water and beans. Cover and heat through for about 5 minutes. Add agave and lime. Taste for salt and seasoning. Turn off heat, let sit for 10 minutes to let flavors meld.Remove thyme stems, anise and bay leaves.

In the meantime, steam the plantain for about 5 minutes. They should appear plump and bright yellow.

To serve, ladle curry over brown rice and top with plantains.

Servings per recipe-4
Calories from fat-45
Total fat-5g
Saturated fat-2.5g
Trans fat-0g
Choleterol- 0mg
Vitamin A-25%
Vitamin C-40%

  • November 3, 2010 at 7:24 am: Emma

    Yuuum, I’ve been looking for something different to do with black eyed peas! This sounds fantastic, thank you.

  • November 3, 2010 at 11:39 am: Jax

    Brilliant! I know what’s for dinner tonight ^__^

  • November 10, 2010 at 2:31 am: vegmers

    This was absolutely fantastic! I was dubious about the steamed plantains since I’ve always had them fried, but they were sweet and a perfect accompaniment to the curry.

  • November 20, 2010 at 6:40 am: Lei

    Looks yummy. I wish you could list the amount of carbs for the new recipes though

  • January 5, 2011 at 2:38 am: mike

    where can a buy a star fish and platains?

  • January 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm: danakscully64

    Mike – Star Anise can be found in the spice section (I’ve seen it in the bags at Cost Plus World Market too) and plantains can be found at almost any grocery store. They look very similar to bananas (are usually right next to each other), but are often black. Black = Ripe and sweet.

  • January 16, 2011 at 4:33 am: David

    danakscully64 – If you live in urban areas, Star Anise and Plantains are easy to find, but the more rural the area, the less likely you will find it. In those cases, health food stores might be able to get the ingredients for you. That has been my experience here in PA.

  • January 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm: danakscully64

    I finally made it and it was pretty good. I look forward to leftovers, I think the flavor will be even better tomorrow. After seeing the main photo, I was expecting there to be a little more liquids, but I should have known based on the liquid amount in the recipe. The steamed plantains (or potatoes) are a must! I’ll definitely be making this one again.

  • March 12, 2011 at 3:38 am: cakelet

    I’ve made this twice in the last two weeks, can’t get enough! The second time I use a Serrano pepper instead of the habanero which seemed to taste even better. I also used the left over coconut water to make the rice which really rounded out the whole meal. Thanks for the great recipes.

  • March 28, 2011 at 2:49 am: visitor

    Star Anise will also be available at most any east-Asian grocery… those are few and far between in Central PA, but Weis does carry plantains! (you may need to buy unripe green ones and let them ripen a week or two.) I’ll try this with a poblano pepper, bc habaneros are way too hot for me.

  • May 28, 2011 at 9:57 am: surat

    Brilliant! I know what’s for dinner tonight

  • June 8, 2011 at 10:36 am: Adara

    Just a couple of days ago I made this and served it over your recipe for mashed yucca from your new book, it was amazing!
    Unfortunately while chopping the habanero, I accidentally wiped my eyebrow…. SPICE BURN! (I still added the whole thing to the recipe though… what can I say, I like my food spicy!)

  • June 20, 2011 at 3:31 am: myriam

    Sooo good, yet simple to make!!!

  • June 25, 2011 at 2:47 am: Melissa

    is that plantain winking at me?

  • August 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm: Alexandra

    Oooh, a vegan/veg book with serious flavour! Yumm. For the star anise (and even stuff like dried chilis etc), I love the online spice stores. Granted, you pay for shipping, but the quality will knock you out. The trick is to get together with a few friends, make a large order and share the shipping. Hey, even if you don’t live rural it is totally worth it. – Try getting good dried peppers in Atlantic Canada. :( – and the freshness of the dried spices is amazing. If you can swing it, worth every cent. Probably not cool to post a link here, but the company I use starts with a ‘P” and can be found shortly down the returns of a google search of “online spices p”.

  • August 28, 2011 at 12:34 am: Juan

    Wow, I had no idea how EASY this was! Even cleanup was a breeze. Will definitely double next time. I had all these very ripe plantains and wanted to do something different. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get thyme so had to use summer savory. Still delicious, hard to imagine that the stronger thyme flavor would make much difference. Thx Isa <3

  • September 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm: Jen

    I made this last week and even though I f*cked up when adding the coconut milk (added way more than the recipe called for) it still turned out deliciously! I can’t wait to make it but this time with the right amount of coconut milk. Makes for excellent lunches at work!

  • October 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm: Judy

    What type of bean would you substitute for the black eyed peas (they are not my fav)?

    • October 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm: IsaChandra

      Probably kidney in this.

  • January 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm: janet @ the taste space

    I have never eaten a plantain before.. how ripe is very ripe?
    Like this blackened one?

    • January 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm: IsaChandra

      It doesn’t have to be totally black, half black and half yellow would be good. The more black the more sweet.

  • January 11, 2012 at 6:46 am: Ellie-Marie

    I made this last night and want to congratulate you on putting together such a beautiful meal. The flavour was mellow, but had depth at the same time. Descriptive words seem to be at a loss at the moment, but please know that I enjoyed it so much I’m contemplating having it cold for breakfast. Yes, the curry was THAT special!


  • March 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm: abi

    Hi Isa,
    This recipe sounds delicious. Being new to eating a low fat / low calorie diet, I was wondering what the serving size is in this recipe (and, if not listed, your others)? Do you think that it would freeze well? I’m trying to make a bunch of portion controlled frozen dinners for myself rather than going back to processed meals.
    Thank you for reading and for your incredible recipe. I hope to make it soon!
    Best, Abi

  • June 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm: Marcus

    Tried this the other day and it was absolutely awesome!

  • August 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm: Kari

    I’m making this tonight, but I really hate all things licorice-tasting (seriously, I even hate fennel), so I plan to omit the star anise since I don’t want to waste time hunting down something that I have a feeling I’m not going to like…so I guess it’ll be a little less authentic, but oh well. ;)

  • February 25, 2013 at 11:28 pm: leah

    What is considered a serving of this loveliness?

  • June 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm: Cialis

    I was more than happy to discover this site. I need to to thank you for your time due to
    this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little
    bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new information
    in your website.

  • June 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm: Shasta

    this is an amazing dish. I am so happy that I found this. Your recipes are making it less difficult to switch over to a vegan diet. I love your site and food. Thank you for all you do cant wait to get you newest cook book.

    • June 23, 2013 at 4:19 am: IsaChandra

      Thank you!

  • July 14, 2013 at 5:40 am: Lindsay Anne

    Are there any substitutes to the agave nector? I’m not sure where I’ll find this and I really want to make it!!


  • February 9, 2015 at 10:48 pm: staciejung

    I love your books, Chandra, but I made this and it was too spicy. My family and I love hot food, really, we are no light weights. The harbanero I bought was too hot. I couldn’t tell until I was done with the dish. What a shame, it smelled amazing. I’m making it again with a jalapeno tonight and adding cayenne if it’s too mild. Just a heads up.

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