This post is an unintentional sequel to a update we sent out last year; perhaps you remember the delicious Uganda beans? Well these peas have a bit of back story, so let’s unpack that before we get into it. Also note, if you only hop onto our website every so often, and you want to know why I got this recipe, try signing up for our updates to get the full scoop.
A couple of weeks ago while working at the safe house, I tasted some incredibly delicious peas made by “Stacy.” I complimented her flavorful concoction profusely and asked her if she’d teach me. She got a kick out of that because the dish is something so basic in her country that it’s practically baby food, but she still happily agreed. A few days later, she came back from the weekly shopping trip and showed me that she had gotten the pack of peas that would be needed to make the dish. A couple more days later, I told Burke about the peas and how Stacy was going to teach me and then I’d make them for him. That same morning when I got to the house, unprompted, Stacy said, “You’re on the schedule to make lunch tomorrow, so I will teach you then.”
The following morning when I arrived at the house I was a tiny bit disappointed when I found out that Stacy was away at an appointment. No peas today. However, to everyone’s surprise, she made it back before noon, despite appointments typically being an all day affair in Thailand. I politely told her that since she had had a busy morning, she could teach me another day if she wanted to rest. She played it cool and said she’d still show me and went to her room to get settled before coming back out to the kitchen. Yay! Here’s the best part though: while she was in her room, the case manager who accompanied her to the appointment told me she had been talking about it all morning and was really excited to be able to teach me how to make her peas. So sweet!
In the end, the peas were great, albeit not quite as delicious as when she made them, and she was a great teacher. To supplement the peas, I just made something simple to bulk up the meal. The ladies all said they loved what I made and had never had it before. To be fair, the ladies always say they love what I make, although I sometimes find leftovers of my dishes in the refrigerator a week later basically untouched. This time however, I knew they liked it, because they all went for seconds, thirds, and even fourths. So what was the thing I made? Baked potatoes. It’s so fun to be able to share basic foods from each other’s cultures, having never had anything like it before.
So here’s how to make the peas:
Fresh or frozen peas, 2 packs or about 32 oz
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic*
1 cup oil
1-2 tsp salt
- Add peas to a pot and cover with enough water so there is an inch or two of water above the peas. Boil for an hour. While peas are boiling, chop tomatoes and onions into about quarter inch pieces. Mince garlic, but keep vegetables separate. (*Garlic is not native to the original recipe, but is a welcome addition by all Africans who’ve tried it.)
- Drain peas and put in a bowl, reserving the water. Separate about 1/5 of the peas and add to the water in a second bowl. You’ll use these two things later.
- Now that your pot is empty, add more oil than you can ever imagine consuming. Honestly, I think she uses about two to three cups, but I just can’t advise that on our website, as health and fitness is too important to me. Use your own discretion here. Oil is hot enough when a test onion sizzles. Add onions and fry until soft and wilted. Then add tomatoes and continue to cook and stir until tomatoes fall apart, but are not completely smushed. Add garlic and cook one more minute. In between stirs, smush your boiled peas with the back of a large spoon until consistency of thick mashed potatoes.
- Add vegetables and oil to pea smutch and mix together until well incorporated. Add salt and the reserved peas and water and mix again. We added about two more cups of water at the end again to thin it out. The final consistency should be gravy-like.
Serve with thick bread or rice. Or for a slightly less authentic, but tastefully approved alternative, baked potatoes.