Here’s another classic dish we make with Pigeon Peas, especially when they’re in full production from early January in the Caribbean (harvest/production last for about 3 months if memory serves me right). In my case I’m based in Canada where the growing season is not long enough for us to have it in our garden. However, we do get quality stuff in the freezer section of major grocery stores.
3-4 lbs chicken
3/4 tablespoon salt (adjust)
2 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1/2 medium tomato (chopped)
3 cups pigeon peas
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion (diced)
1 teaspoon of Anchar Masala
7-9 cloves garlic (rough chop)
2 1/3 cups water (divided)
2 medium potatoes (sliced thin)
2 tablespoon shado beni culantro (or cilantro)
Important: If doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the full list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs. I used pigeon peas from frozen, but the recipe works with fresh pigeon peas just as well. If you can only access canned pigeon peas, there’s no need to pre cook them. Drain, rinse and add when I do in the cooking process.
Thaw, rinse and place the peas in a deep pot covered with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 45 mins to 1 hour. This will help to precook the peas and get rid of a ‘weird’ taste you get if you don’t pre boil them. After 1/2 hr of cooking, drain the water and repeat for another 30 minutes with new water. Then drain and set aside for later.
In a large bowl ad the cut chicken (serving size pieces), add the salt, black pepper, Caribbean Green Seasoning, scotch bonnet and tomato. Stir well and allow it to marinate for about 1-2 hours.
Heat the oil on a medium flame in a deep pot, then add the onion and garlic and cook on LOW for 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add the curry powder. Keep the heat on low.
3 minutes after adding the curry powder, turn the heat to medium and add the 1/3 cup water, followed by the Anchar masala and stir well. The goal is to cook out the rawness of the curry and allow the spices to bloom. Additionally with the heat on medium we’ll burn off all the liquid and try to get back to the oil we started off with.
Turn the heat to high and start adding the seasoned chicken to the pot. Stir well to coat the chicken pieces and deglaze the bottom of the pot with the chicken pieces. Side note – put the water in the same bowl we marinated the chicken in to pick up any remaining marinade.
Bring to a boil and it will start releasing it’s own natural juices after about 5 minutes. The goal again here is to burn off that liquid to intensify the overall flavor.
Once the liquid is gone, it’s time to add the pre-cooked pigeon peas, sliced potato and water (stir well). Bring to a boil.
After it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to between a simmer and a rolling boil (medium – low heat). Cook with the lid on, slightly ajar.
After 20 minutes its time personalize things. Adjust the salt and get the gravy to consistency you like. Finally top with the chopped shado beni (culantro) or cilantro if you cannot source shado beni. To thicken the gravy, you can crush some of the potato if you like. I usually use the back of my spoon to crush some of the pigeon peas to thicken things up.
Pigeon Peas (Cajanus cajan) whose cultivation can be traced back more than 3,500 years, is known by a variety of names: Congo pea, Angola pea and red gram. LA Times.
This Curry Chicken with Pigeon Peas is a dish which screams for hot roti, but just as enjoyable with steamed or boiled rice.
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