If you are puzzled to see the title of the post.Puzzle no more.I will explain it to you shortly :-).
So let me ask you,How did you spend the first day of the year?Is there a New Year tradition you grew up with?
I was thinking about it .Tradition which i remember growing up we had on New Year day was to go picnic-ing somewhere with friends /family.It is very much of an Indian tradition or at least in the part that i grew up at.I ABSOLUTELY LOVED it.Sometime we will get together with other family,gather the paraphernalia to cook by some river or a park and eat and enjoy the rest of the day.Sometime,I just went to some friend’s house and did pseudo potluck sort of picnic lunch.I remember my girl friends and moments we shared like that back then.It was NICE,REALLY NICE.
I was talking to my mom other day and asked if people still do it that way and she said,it has been kicked up a notch,all park and scenic places are crowded ,hotels are booked in advance for this Jan 1st,picnic day.I feel the popularity of ‘celebrating’ new year by mingling with family and friends takes strong center stage in India then i have experienced here.Celebratory emotions and intensity which prevails during new year in the form of sending cards and greeting’Happy New Year’ to each other has resemblance of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and sending Christmas Cards around Christmas time here.I didn’t quite understand when i was new to US that why people don’t greet ‘Happy new year’ as vigorously as they do in India.
My guess is,it is because,most Indian festivals are over by mid Nov.Though Christmas is celebrated,it does not ring in the heart of very Hindu country of India.So Jan 1st,starts the beginning of celebration for the year.
So this year,hubby and I decided to take an hour trip down to visit my in-laws and spend the day at the ranch.And let our kids run wild in the field.We are fascinated by hay bales and we get mesmerized by the sound of passing train and did we experienced both or what?
I know we are half the post and you are thinking,when is she going to tell us about the dish?
Well,as i was researching the food around the world,i came across this beans stew from Ghana ,which is served with spicy plantain fry.So it was sitting in the back of my head.Then recently,we heard about a missionary friend,who is battling some very tough circumstances in Africa,as trying to spread the Gospel there.So she has been in my mind a lot lately too.Then new year came and i remember couple of years back my mother-in-law telling me about the tradition this part of the country has to eat black eyed peas with cornbread.Are you getting the connection now?Its not a mystery,is it?
Though i don’t buy on the good luck charm of eating black eyed peas on new years day but i thought,it fits perfect in my menu plan.African dish i was telling you about is
- traditional dish of Ghana.
- It is black eyed peas cooked in Red palm oil with spicy chili and tomatoes,which gives this dish the distinct red -color.Now you know why it is called ‘red-red stew’.
- Smoked fish or shrimp paste is the traditional mark of this stew.However i stayed with chicken boullian cube.
- It is served with the fried spicy plantain,called Kelewele.
- I used the regular vegetable oil and didn’t add too much cayenne pepper to it.I don’t say it very often but i would prefer this dish to be ‘spicy’ hot.
- If you really do not like black eyed peas, you can use any beans you like, lentils (green, brown, red etc), chick peas, green peas.
- Fresh black eyed peas are crunchy and fit for salad but for stew it needs to be cooked just like you cook beans after soaking.I prefer canned black eyed peas.
As i prepared this Ghanaian dish,we prayed as a family for the protection,guidance and ease for our missionary friend in Africa(not necessarily in Ghana).We also kept the tradition of New Year,my mother-in-law has told me about !
I don’t know about your family but no-one in my family cares for black eyed peas.Though just like so many things which i still cook because its healthy and good for you and seriously whats wrong in trying a new legume beside regular pinto beans? And really if you get over the “i don’t like black eyed peas’ hump,you may even like couple of spoon of this dish with rice :-).Give it a try,even if it is just once a year,doesn’t have to be new year.