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Guest recipes with Serene Tharian


Traditional taste of Kerala


Black Eyed Peas Curry (Vellappayar Curry)

This Black Eyed Peas (Vellapayar) Curry recipe is robust, spicy and made with onions, tomatoes and lots of spices and herbs. This is usually how it is prepared in Kerala, though, as I keep saying, different states in India prepare them with different spice combinations. If using canned beans (as I have used here), drain the liquid from the can and rinse the beans in fresh water.


2 cans black eyed peas (black eyed beans, vellapayar)

4 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds (black mustard seeds)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 pieces each of 1 inch cinnamon

4 green cardamoms

4 cloves

¼ teaspoon black pepper powder (adjust as needed)

1 dried red chili – seeds removed (adjust as needed)

1 cup sliced shallots or 1 large onion chopped

8 to 10 curry leaves

2 teaspoon chopped ginger

2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons fresh sliced coconut or dried coconut slices

1 cup chopped tomatoes

2 green chilies – slit and deseeded

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon Garam Masala

1.5 cups water or add as required

salt as required

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 to 5 curry leaves



Heat 4 tablespoons coconut oil in a pan

Keep heat low, add the black mustard seeds and let them crackle. When the mustard seeds crackle, add cumin seeds. Let cumin seeds splutter. Now add the cinnamon sticks, green cardamoms, cloves and dry red chili. Fry for a few seconds till the spices are fragrant. Spices have to be heated on a low flame always so as not to burn.

Add the sliced pearl onions or shallots or onions. Stir till translucent.

Add curry leaves, the chopped ginger and chopped garlic. Also add chopped coconut slices and stir. Next add black pepper. Mix and sauté till the raw smell of the spices disappears.

Add chopped tomatoes and slit green chilies. Continue to stir. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder.

Sauté on a medium to low flame till the tomatoes soften and the mixture is well combined and the oil starts to separate.

Add 1.5 cups water or add as required depending on the consistency preferred.

Add the black eyed peas. Season with salt as per taste. On a medium to low heat, simmer the curry for 10 to 12 minutes till the gravy thickens. With a spoon, mash part of the beans to thicken the gravy.

Once the Black Eyed Beans Curry is done, switch off the fire and add 4 to 5 curry leaves. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of coconut oil on top. Stir and cover the pan. Close the pan for 10 minutes, so that the fragrance of the curry leaves and coconut oil permeates through.

Serve with steamed rice, roti, paratha or naan or soft dosas. You can garnish the curry with coriander leaves if you like.

Alternately you can add other vegetables that cook in a short time frame to it, like courgettes, carrots, sweet potatoes and frozen peas.


Serene runs amateur cooking club The Best Exotic Kerala Kitchen, where cooking lessons are held for friends and family. Tel: 99 222462

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