January 21, 2012

Eggplant & Black Eyed Pea Curry

by IsaChandra

Serves 6 to 8
Total time: 1 hour || Active time: 20 minutes

Eggplant, Lentil & Black Eyed Pea Curry

January for me means there’s always a chili or a curry simmering away on the stove. There’s no farmer’s markets to speak of so of course I’m depending on lots of beans and pantry items. When your toes are so cold all the time you need something warm and filling at the ready, and the spice doesn’t hurt, either! Its fragrance warms everything up like a magic spell wafting throughout the house. In fact, this curry was so aromatic that the mailman had to knock on the door just to tell me how good it smelled. Now that’s sayin’ something.

I wanted lots of texture here and so I went with hearty ingredients. Eggplant, for one, with its great meaty seeds and velvety body. And then I used a little lentil trick that is worth its weight in gold (I mean, worth it’s weight in lentils.) Use two kinds: red lentils as a backdrop, because they just melt into the stew and provide a thick heartiness. And then brown or green lentils which stay toothsome and intact.

You can serve with basmati rice, of course, but it’s also great over mashed potatoes (maybe even cilantro or scallion mashed potatoes if you want to get a little fancy.) When peeling the eggplant, you don’t have to be too precise. A little skin left on is fine, I just find that a lot of skin is a little obtrusive and it also prevents the eggplant from breaking down. I used black eyed peas to switch things up a bit, but kidney or chickpeas are great here, too!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced medium
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 lbs eggplant, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons mild curry powder (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed or chopped fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (leave out if you don’t like spicy, increase if you do)
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup brown or green lentils
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped (extra for garnish)
5 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked black eyed peas, rinsed and drained (about 2 16 oz cans)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Preheat a 4-quart soup pot over medium high heat. Saute onions in oil until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute for another minute.

Add the eggplant, curry powder, fennel seed, salt, pepper and cayenne along with a 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth to cook the eggplant down for a minute or two.

Add lentils, cilantro and remaining vegetable broth. Cover pot and bring to a boil, keeping a close eye. Once it’s boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, until lentils are tender and eggplant is soft. Add black eyed peas to heat through, and stir in the tomato paste and lemon juice. If you’d like a thicker curry, then leave the lid off for the last 10 minutes. For thinner then just add a little extra broth. Taste for salt and seasoning.

Let sit for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor. Serve garnished with cilantro if you like.

  • January 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm: Tiffany

    Made it tonight and it is fantastic!

    • January 22, 2012 at 2:29 am: IsaChandra

      That was fast, cool!

  • January 22, 2012 at 12:19 am: Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This curry sounds wicked good! Yum!

  • January 22, 2012 at 3:35 am: Katrina

    I really don’t care for the fenugreek in traditional curry powders….can you suggest a blend of spices that omits the fenugreek but results in a similar flavor? Thanks!!

    • January 22, 2012 at 3:43 am: IsaChandra

      Tumeric, ground cumin, ground fennel, ground coriander, hot paprika, ground mustard, pinch ground cardamom. I don’t keep fenugreek on hand so when I made a homemade curry powder that’s what I do.

  • January 22, 2012 at 5:50 am: Chris

    Perfect timing! I have been trying to find more recipes for black eyed peas. There is seriously a shortage of black eyed pea recipes on the internet. This looks so yummy!

  • January 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm: weirdcombos

    Very good looking dish. Beautiful picture! Black eye peas are delicious, I never thought of mixing it with eggplant. Anything wrong with leaving the skin on eggplants?

  • January 22, 2012 at 5:01 pm: Jon

    Saw your facebook post about this when I was looking for dinner ideas last night. Made it sans fennel seed and with 4 cups of veggie broth, plus green beans. So very good! Thank you Isa!

  • January 23, 2012 at 1:19 am: KZCakes

    bought everything I need for this at the store today :) maybe I will add tomatoes and coconut milk because I liked it so much in your chana masala recipe. I will impress my Indian co-workers with this one!

  • January 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm: Rachel

    Do you think this would work in the crock pot? Always looking for recipes I can assemble in the morning.

  • January 29, 2012 at 1:35 am: Denise

    Yes! I made this tonight and it was a hit for sure. Used garbonzos instead of black eyed peas, but left everything else the same. Looks like it will make awesome leftovers tomorrow, too :)

  • January 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm: Amber

    I made this yesterday and it was great! I used kidney beans instead of the black-eyed peas since I had them handy. Delicious! Thank you!!!! I had a great dinner and have enough left over for a couple of work lunches :)

  • February 3, 2012 at 2:41 am: Michelle

    So I have this cooking at the moment, and I’m quite excited to eat it. I snuck a taste and it’s very good. It almost didn’t happen because when I went to the store there was no eggplant, but I really wanted to make it, so now I’m using carrots. Not the same effect as the eggplant which disintegrates, but it tastes great none the less! Can’t wait to try it this summer when eggplant is in season again :)

  • February 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm: Lucidia

    I made this yesterday and it was great! I had 2 yams handy and diced them in 1/2 inch chunks then added them at the same time with the lentils. I made enough for an army and now have leftovers for the week. Yumm!

  • February 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm: Robin F.

    I made this recipe last night for dinner and it was a HUGE hit! It makes a lot of food so I’m curious to know if this recipe freezes well if anyone has tried it???

  • February 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm: Sarah


    I just made this in my crockpot. I sautéed the onion, garlic, ginger and spices on the stove first. Added the eggplant and let it sautee until covered in spice and soft.
    Then I put everything, including the black-eyed peas, in the crockpot for something like 3 hours. It came out great.

  • February 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm: gina

    If I’m using not-from-can black-eyed peas, should they be added at the same time as the lentils?
    P.S. I love all your recipes! Thank you!!

    • February 29, 2012 at 1:54 am: IsaChandra

      No, you’ll need to cook them first. They take too long to cook in this soup.

  • February 29, 2012 at 4:33 am: juliet

    Turned out great! My eggplant was mostly bad so I used sunchokes. I added a cup of pumpkin too since I had some. I recommend eating this with quinoa. Thnks for alll your fabulous ideas!

  • March 5, 2012 at 8:08 am: Laura

    Holee Toledo! Just made this in a “It’s 10pm and I need to cook something to make the house smell faboo” and WOW! Delicious. My husband arose from a sofa nap and decided he might like eggplant after all.
    I added extra curry powder, extra cayenne and extra cumin for a super curry kick. Also threw in some mushrooms at the very end, since they were sitting in my fridge.
    Cannot wait to bring this to work tomorrow and watch the jealous faces pop into my office!

  • March 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm: janet @ the taste space

    I increased the curry powder significantly but otherwise enjoyed this curry. I used less cayenne, too. It makes a ton so next time I will likely half it. Thanks for sharing it, Isa!

  • April 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm: Eva and Yannick

    We made this yesterday and it turned out great! I put half the lemon juice suggested in the recipe because I don’t like lemon, and added more cayenne. It was really delicious. It’s probably going to become a staple of our diet. It makes a lot so that way we have something to bring to work/university for lunch during the week. Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  • April 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm: Therese

    Just made this… It’s SO GOOD! Didn’t have lemons in the house, but it’s still amazing. The texture is so rich and creamy!

  • May 13, 2012 at 3:31 am: Jazza

    Sounds and looks yummy Chickpeas and Cannellini beans also taste fab in a vegie curry and marry with lentils well

  • June 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm: mimi

    Tasty dish & the recipe made A LOT! Tasted even better the next day over mashed potatoes. I sprouted the lentils for extra nutrition. And I added in some green split peas.

  • July 10, 2012 at 1:24 am: Denise

    It is not winter but so what! This dish is so ridiculously good! The texture, flavors – just wonderful.
    Thank you. I am so glad I “happened” upon your site. This is the third recipe I have tried.

  • August 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm: Alexis

    eating it leftover for lunch right now- crazy delicious!

  • November 16, 2012 at 7:24 am: Caitlin Frunks

    I made this with a few tweaks (adding tomatoes and some extra spices like garam masala and tumeric) and chickpeas instead of black eyed peas, and it was probably the best curry I’ve ever made! Thank you!

  • December 9, 2012 at 12:26 am: Anne

    Damn woman. You are awesome!

  • December 15, 2012 at 4:38 am: Jessica

    This was great! I love the flavors. I didn’t have any curry powder, so I just added in garam masala, coriander, and some cardamom. I was also running low on eggplant, but had two zucchini on hand that I used in addition to the eggplant. Very filling and very delicious!

  • January 9, 2013 at 7:34 pm: Grassroot Cooking

    Made this yesterday evening for my parents. (Who are the sort of people who say vegetarian food is boring and unfilling. They don’t really understand the concept of veganism.) Guess what? They loved it!

    I did omit the fenugreek and used fennel seeds instead. This is only because I’ve never eaten fenugreek, and I like fennel. The result was pretty tasty!

  • January 16, 2013 at 2:52 am: vegkayla

    I used tumeric, ground cumin, fennel, paprika, and ground mustard instead of the “curry powder” I had in my cabinet, and added more of the hot spices to make it spicier. I subbed BEP for garbanzo beans, added mushrooms with the eggplant, and kale later on during cooking. I actually said “this is amazing” upon first bite. It’s so hearty I don’t think it needs a bed of rice or potatoes. I will be looking forward to eating these leftovers the rest of the week!

  • January 24, 2013 at 1:53 am: Sarah C

    I like everything I make from your cookbooks and website, but I must say, you are a MASTER at vegan indian dishes. This and the cashew veggie korma are absolutely unbelievable!

  • February 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm: Arah

    Brilliant – I made this earlier this week to use up some items. WOW! Great flavor. Thanks so much!

  • February 9, 2013 at 3:07 am: steph

    I loved this! This is a great dish for people like me who are squeamish about eggplant. It completely dissolved with the red lentils made a great sauce. I used chickpeas and black lentils since that’s what I had in the pantry.

  • March 7, 2013 at 3:48 am: rosstheboss

    omg i made it tonight, it was amazing!!!

    i personally like a thicker curry, so i left out half a cup of the veggie broth, it had the consistency of chili, lol

  • May 14, 2013 at 8:34 pm: Amy

    Best curry I’ve had in a long time! I love the way the lentils and eggplant mush down into a thick, rich sauce. Great combination of spices too. I had it with plain rice, but I think it could really stand up well to a more jazzy rice dish, such as the cranberry-cashew biryani in Appetite for Reduction. Yum!

  • June 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm: Amy

    Do you use dried lentils?? Looks amazing!

  • August 11, 2013 at 1:47 am: Jazmyn

    I had to substitute black eye peas with chickpeas, and also used curry powder instead of paste. Fantastic nevertheless, could’ve done with more chili but a fantastic dish. The coriander just makes it! I added more, was super good :)

  • August 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm: Raws

    this is by far my favorite way to make a delicious lentils

  • November 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm: Fiona

    Sooooooooo yum. I used french green lentils and mung dahl and then threw in some fresh broad beans right at the end.

  • March 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm: jessie

    Rediculously good!!!!!!!

  • September 1, 2014 at 2:03 am: Kathy

    Absolutely fantastic! My frozen black eyed peas got overcooked even following directions but this recipe is definitely another fav.

  • May 13, 2015 at 10:45 pm: Susie

    Looking forward to making this recipe tonight! Does anyone know which cookbook this is in?