Abala (Black Eyed Pea Tamales)
Sold as a street snack in Senegal, these simple banana leaf-wrapped packets are thickened with pureed black-eyed peas and served with a tart-spicy relish. This recipe first appeared in our May 2012 issue along with John O'Connor's story A Feast For All.
Enlarge Image Credit: Todd ColemanMAKES 12
Ingredients1 cup black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
2 tbsp. palm oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
½ Japanese eggplant, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 8" x 6" squares banana leaves
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup canola oil
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 habañero or Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
½ small red onion, very thinly sliced lengthwise
Instructions1. Drain peas and transfer to a food processor; pulse until slightly broken and skins break away from peas, about 4 pulses. Transfer peas to a medium bowl and cover with water; let sit until skins float to top of water. Slowly drain water from peas, allowing skins to drain with water; remove any remaining pieces of skin from peas. Place peas in a blender with 3 tbsp. water, and puree, scraping down sides of blender if necessary, until smooth; set pea puree aside.
2. Heat oil in a 10" skillet over medium heat; add yellow onion and eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into pea puree; season filling with salt and pepper. Place 2 tbsp. filling in the middle of a banana leaf sheet with long sides parallel to you; starting with long sides, tri-fold sheet over filling, and then tri-fold shorter sides to create a square packet. Transfer packet, seam side down, to a baking sheet; repeat with remaining filling and banana leaf sheets.
3. Bring 1" water to a boil in the bottom of a 6-qt. saucepan fitted with a metal steamer insert. Working in batches, place packets, seam side down, on steamer, cover with lid, and cook until filling is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, to make relish, stir together juice, oil, tomatoes, chile, red onion, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Open packets while hot and top with relish to serve.