Masala Roongi / Lobia – Black eyed peas in curry

I am not sure why I didn’t share the recipe for ‘masala roongi’  earlier.  I suppose it must have been that thing again – is it too simple to be called a recipe?  Participating in ‘veganmofo’ worked well for me for two reasons.  First, it pushed me to start blogging again, and brought back the smile that fills my heart when I read your comments – a grin, not  a smile, that is. Secondly, veganmofo taught me to share recipes that are ‘simple’.  Simple, because some of  the dishes I blogged this month are everyday recipes, that I grew up with, that I could make even blindfolded, recipes that I did not realize could be new to others.  I am happy blogging these because these are the dishes that define me.  The kind that you will find in my house, if you visited on a whim. Sharing such recipes is having you here.

Today’s ‘masala roongi’ is one such recipe.  You will find me making this when I am out of vegtables, out of ideas, when I need time to attend to other things, because this dish is uncomplicated, quick and yet tastes excellent.  But unlike, the other dishes I blogged about, I did not grow up with one.  My mother does not make ‘roongi’ this way.  I knew ‘roongi’ as ‘lobia’ or ‘payaru’, as it is known in Hindi and Tamil.  My mother uses it to make a sweet dish called  ‘ukkarai’, and savoury dishes like ‘olan’ and ‘mezhukkuvaratti‘.  But, I had tasted ‘masala roongi’ as a kid, and liked it.  Some of my North Indian friends in school would get it with rotis for lunch (dabba).  I had forgotten about it, until, one day, my dear friend – Bina – who has been mentioned on TT on more than once, brought ‘masala roongi’ in her packed lunch.

Bina, as I have said before, is an excellent cook. And when I tasted her roongi the first time, it brought back a flash of memories and taste for the dish. I have made it numerous times after that. My kids love it. The dish can be made as I am presenting it today or in a ground gravy. This one is easier. There is not much to strive for. The black eyed peas will work their magic – now I got you thinking of the band!

Recipe: Masala Roongi [Black eyed peas in curry / Payaru curry]
Yield : Serves 3 portions


Black eyed peas | Lobia | Roongi | Payaru – 1 cup
Onions, chopped roughly – 1/2 cup
Tomatoes, chopped roughly – 1/2 cup
Green chillies, chopped fine – 1 tbsp.
Ginger, chopped fine – 1 tsp.
Garam Masala – A pinch for me. Upto 1/8 tsp. if you like spicy food
Rock salt – As per taste
Turmeric powder – [Optional] A pinch
Red chilli powder – [Optional] 1/8 tsp.
Oil (Mustard oil preferably) – 2 tbsps.
Cumin seeds | Jeera – 1 tsp.


Dry roast black eyed peas till specks of brown appear, on slow, even flame, about 10 minutes. Pressure cook, covering with enough water, under high pressure for three whistles. Let cooker cool naturally. Remove and drain liquid, reserving it in a bowl. Set aside till needed.

Heat oil in a wok. When hot add cumin seeds. Let them crackle. Add onions and saute till brown. Add tomatoes, followed by ginger and green chillies. Saute for 2 minutes on medium flame.

Add garam masala, salt, turmeric and chilli powders. Mix. Cover and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

The mixture should be a little juicy and sweet, but the tomatoes should not turn pulpy. Do not mash.

Add cooked roongi, and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of reserved liquid. Adjust salt. Cover and cook to let the flavours meld.

Serve with whole wheat tortillas, rotis or with pulav, or with steamed rice.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Nithya

    Love your yummy recipe.. Nice clicks

  • Grant

    I really want to try this recipe as I have lots of dried black eyed beans around but I don’t have a pressure cooker, is there a different way of cooking them? Do I have to soak them over night?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Harini

      You can soak them overnight, rinse the next morning and cook in fresh water like you would cook any other lentils. I suggest you roast and then soak. Roasting brings out flavours.

  • Sanjeeta kk

    Black eyed beans are quite common in Rajasthani cuisine..we cook the same dish minus the onion and tomato during festive seasons. Love those bowls..

  • uma shankar

    lovely recipe and lovely pictures!

  • Kankana

    I don’t think I ever heard of that dish. May be I ate it. I am not sure. But I am willing to try. I think the husband will like it!

    • Harini

      That’s the spirit of a foodie, Kankana! 🙂

  • ujwal

    It is so good to see your site after a long break. I have tasted a similar one at my friend’s house and we got hooked to it. It tastes so earthy and delicious. She used chole powder instead of garam masala powder and it was yum. I am yet to try this. I love your pictures. It is a visual treat to us

  • Nandita

    Loved this heart warming dish Harini!! And the presentation is just awesome 🙂

  • Vijitha

    Super healthy and I love black eyed peas. It becomes so soft in no time (like 4-5 whistles) and safest for kids. My son loves sundal made with this. As always gorgeous clicks!

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