Kabocha Curry with Black Eyed Peas

This Kerala inspired vegetarian curry is made with squash, black-eyed peas, coconut, and spices.

My mom used to make it all the time and it is so delicious!

She actually never tried kabocha until coming to the United States, as it’s not commonly found in India.

But after trying it, she now prefers using it in this dish as opposed to other squash varieties found in Southern India.

Kabocha squash is not as watery as other squashes and has a more dense and creamier texture similar to sweet potato. 

Black eyed peas on the other hand are commonly used in Indian cuisine and you will find plenty of Indian recipes with black eyed peas.

In Kerala, black-eyed peas or vellapayar are often sautéd with grated coconut, mustard seeds, and green chilies.

Adding the sweet and creamy kabocha creates a rich gravy and elevates them to another level.

It also makes a perfect fall or winter meal!

How to cut kabocha squash

There are probably more efficient ways to cut squash, but this is the way I do it to minimize injuring myself.

I first cut the squash into large wedges and then cut off the peel. Then I cube each wedge into 1-inch chunks and set them aside.

How to Make Kabocha and Black Eyed Pea Curry

Start by cooking black-eyed peas in a pot or pressure cooker with water and a pinch of turmeric. They can be made 1-2 days before and kept in the fridge.

I prefer pressure cooking since it’s faster and doesn’t require any soaking. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, follow instructions on your package which will probably say to soak the beans 6-8 hours or overnight and then simmer them for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until tender.

If using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, simply place beans and enough water to cover them inside the insert and set the IP to Manual. Adjust the time to 15 minutes. When it beeps, allow the IP to do a “natural release” for another 15 minutes.

Set aside the beans along with the water they were cooked in.

Next, heat oil in a pot and sauté mustard and cumin seeds for 30-60 seconds, being careful not to burn them.

Then add in minced onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, and green chilies. For a spicier version, mince or dice the chilies. For a milder version, only split them down the middle.

Now add some grated coconut and sauté another 5 minutes. You can use as little or as much as you’d like.

Lower the heat and add Indian chili powder and ground coriander, cooking them for 30-60 seconds until aromatic. Increase the heat back to medium-high and stir in diced tomatoes.

Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 8-10 minutes until the tomatoes soften. Feel free to add 1/4-1/2 cup of water if the tomatoes start to burn.

Finally, add in the cooked black-eyed peas and kabocha. Simmer the curry for 15-20 minutes uncovered until the kabocha is fork tender. If your beans were on the firm side after pressure cooking, add them 10 minutes earlier than the kabocha so they can cook longer.

Take the curry off the heat and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice or chapati.

You can keep this curry thick and creamy or add more water for a hearty stew. Or try coconut milk for a rich amazing flavor! 

Here are some other Indian vegetarian dishes

Indian Green Beans
Mildly spiced Kerala style green beans with mustard seeds, chili, and caramelized onions and garlic.
Check out this recipe
Closeup skillet with Indian green beans, curry leaves, chili pepper.
Cabbage Thoran
A Kerala favorite, this thoran is made with cabbage, chilies, and coconut.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen skillet with yellow cabbage thoran.
Beetroot Thoran
A Kerala favorite, this thoran is made with beetroot, chilies, and coconut.
Check out this recipe
Skillet with beetroot thoran and wooden spoon.
Tomato Curry
A favorite Indian dish of mine, this flavorful curry is made with sweet and tangy tomatoes, onions, and spices.
Check out this recipe
Pan of Indian tomato curry with cilantro.
Curried Quinoa with Mixed Veggies
A flavorful dish of whole grains and mixed vegetables infused with Indian spices.
Check out this recipe
India quinoa with multi vegetables, yogurt, and mango pickle.

Bowl of kabocha curry with black eyed peas, cilantro.

Kabocha Curry with Black Eyed Peas

Joby’s Test Kitchen
A savory and sweet Kerala curry made with kabocha, black-eyed peas, coconut, chilies, and spices.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 5

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup dry black-eyed peas
  • 3 cups water
  • 1-2 pinches turmeric
  • ½ medium kabocha squash
  • 1-2 tbsps oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 1-2 branches curry leaves
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1-2 whole green chilies *see "Notes"
  • ⅛-¼ cup fresh grated coconut
  • ¼-½ cup chopped tomato
  • 1 tsp chili powder (like Kashmiri)
  • ½-1 tsp ground coriander
  • cilantro for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Cook beans in a pot or pressure cooker with water and pinch of turmeric (see “Notes” below). If using an instant pot, set it to Manual and then 15 minutes. When it beeps, do a natural release for 15 minutes. Set aside the beans and the water they were cooked in.
  • While the beans are cooking, cut the kabocha into wedges and then cut off the peel. Then cube each wedge into 1 inch chunks. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pot and sauté the mustard and cumin seeds for 30-60 seconds. Then add in the onions, ginger, garlic, and chilis. Sauté for 5-8 minutes until golden. Then add the grated coconut and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Lower the heat and add the spices and cook for 30-60 seconds until aromatic. Increase heat back to medium-high and stir in the tomatoes. Cover the pot with a lid and cook until the tomatoes soften, 8-10 minutes. Add in 1/4-1/2 cup water if needed so the tomatoes don’t burn.
  • Finally, add the cooked black-eyed peas and kabocha. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the kabocha is fork tender. If the beans were very firm after pressure cooking add them 10 minutes before adding the kabocha so they cook for longer.
  • Take off heat and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice or chapati.

Notes

Chili Peppers: For less spicy, only slice the chili down the middle. For a spicier curry, mince or dice the chili. Wearing gloves is highly recommended!
Black Eyed Peas: Pressure cooking is the fastest method. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, follow instructions on the package which usually requires soaking the beans 6-8 hours or overnight and then simmering for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until tender. There’s no need to soak the beans when pressure cooking.
Keyword coconut, garbonzo beans, Kerala, squash

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