Nelson Mandela wrote about cowpeas during his time in prison. They have come to have powerful cultural significance in Africa. Mine are flavored with North African spices, but the power of their symbolism is not lost.
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 4 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 pound cow peas or black eyes peas
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon African berber spice mix (substitute paprika)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
- chicken stock, to taste as needed
- 1 bunch kale, thick veins removed and roughly chopped
- salt and pepper as needed
- sour cream or crumbled feta as garnish (optional)
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 1 whole star anise
Rinse the beans well, Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often until the onions soften and the garlic is fragrant. Add the beans, stirring to coat and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Add the cumin, paprika, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon stick, star anise, and tomatoes with their liquid and enough water to cover the beans by about 1‑inch. Bring the beans to a simmer, add 2 or 3 teaspoons salt then lower the heat and cook covered, stirring occasionally until the beans are softened somewhat and most of the liquid is mostly absorbed; about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Watch the liquid level carefully and add more water if needed.
Add enough chicken stock to cover the beans by about 1‑inch (or more if you prefer to serve this as a soup). Bring the mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer until the beans are tender but not mushy. About 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise. Add the kale, stirring to incorporate until it is just wilted. Adjust seasoning and serve with sour cream or crumbled feta cheese (optional).