Get your Calcium on with 'Badbadi'

Badbad whaaaa?!

Alright, let me explain. Growing up in India, we ate a boatload of lentils and beans, also known as legumes. Our family occasionally ate meat and fish so we weren't vegetarian (many Indian households are) but we relied heavily on legumes for protein and other nutrients. 

My favorite legume dish was 'badbadi' (pronounded bud-bud-ee). I just loved saying it over and over again - "mom, let's have badbadi today!" "Mom, are we having badbadi for lunch"? "Mom, is that badbadi in the pressure cooker"? I'm not sure if the word led me to love the dish or the other way around but I have vivid memories of a delicious bowl of badbadi with rice hitting the spot on many an occasion. 

How ironic then that my latest obsession - CALCIUM for kids - led me straight back to badbadi, a Sindhi term for black-eyed peas! (Sindhis are a community of Indians originally from the Sindh province in Pakistan. I am Sindhi). If you've watched my calcium conscious grocery run, you're recall that black-eyed peas are a powerful non-dairy source of calcium. So you see how, in a quest to wrap up our calcium series with a spiced, delicious, non-dairy, calcium-rich recipe, I came full circle back to badbadi.

I couldn't, however, share the recipe without getting to the bottom of the moniker. So I called my mom.

Me: "Mom, what's with the name badbadi?"
Mom: "Hmm. Why do you ask?"
Me: "I'm sharing it with my readers as a non-dairy, calcium-rich, kid-friendly recipe and I can't possibly gloss over the strange and addictive sounding name."
Mom: "Kanchan, I don't know if this is appropriate to share with your readers but I think it's because badbadi ..... you know.....(giggle) causes a bit of flatulence (read: gas) because it's a bean and that sounds like....you know....ahem.....bud bud bud....(giggle)"
Me: "Mom!! LOL" "LOL" "LOL"

So there you have it. I still love badbadi as do my son and husband despite the flatulence issue. As discussed here, not all flatulence is bad but can, in fact, be a sign of good gut flora health. I use spices and techniques to minimize the gassiness of the black-eyed peas (and most healthful beans and lentils) described below and always offer it at lunch so there's plenty of time to optimally digest before bedtime. And to no one's surprise, my son loves saying the word too. 

RECIPE

Badbadi (Black-Eyed Pea Curry)
Toddler, Kid, Adult

Science Corner
In addition to aiding heart health discussed here, black-eyed peas are a superb non-dairy source of calcium - 1 cup has 183 mg vs milk that has 300 mg. They are also packed with complex carbohydrates for sustained energy, some protein, low levels of fat, folate and vitamin K, which helps the body retain calcium - a winning combination! Their fiber feeds beneficial bacteria in our guts allowing them to produce important molecules like butyrate. Butyrate maintains the health of our large intestine, prevents inflammation, boosts metabolism and even prevents colon cancer! Needless to say, adding these nutrient powerhouses to your kids' and family's diet is a fabulous idea. Here, they merge with anti-inflammatory turmeric, digestion-boosting spices like asafoetida (hing), cumin and coriander (which also contains a good amount of vitamin K!) and anti-bacterial bay leaf in a curry that will warm the bellies and hearts of your entire family. Not to mention that this is also the perfect dish to sneak in those greens - spinach anyone? 

NOTE ON COOKING BEANS RIGHT
To ameliorate the gassiness of beans, it's a good idea to use digestion-boosting spices like ginger, asafoetida (hing), cumin, coriander and / or bay leaf. Rinsing and soaking the beans also gets rid of some of the gas-causing oligosaccharides. Finally, boiling the beans uncovered for 5-10 minutes and skimming the foam helps reduce the gassiness. We deploy all of these techniques here!  

Yield
4 toddler or 2 adult servings

Ingredients
1 cup black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked overnight
1/2 onion
2 tomatoes
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons neutral oil like canola
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Pinch, about 1/16th teaspoon asafoetida (hing) (optional)
1 dry bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander / cilantro powder
1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach (can use fresh)
Salt to taste

Method
Discard the soaking water and set the beans aside.

In a food processor, blend the onion, tomato and ginger into a smooth puree.

In a pressure cooker or pot for which you have a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and allow to brown and turn aromatic, about 15 seconds. Add the turmeric and hing and sauté until the spices bloom, about 10 seconds. Add the onion, tomato, ginger puree and sauté until roasted, about 8 minutes.

If using a pressure cooker, add the beans, bay leaf and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil uncovered for 5 minutes, skimming off foam as it arises. Seal the pressure cooker and cook on high for 3 minutes until pressure builds and releases. Reduce heat to a low setting and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pressure release entirely, about 5 minutes. Open the pressure cooker and check the beans for doneness - they should be soft. If not, cook them longer until soft. You can also do this in a slow cooker. 

If using a pot, add the beans, bay leaf and 4.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil uncovered for 10 minutes, skimming off foam as it arises. Cover, reduce heat to low and allow the beans to cook for 60 minutes. Check every 10 minutes to ensure the beans are submerged (adding more water if not) and aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the beans are soft, take the lid off and turn the heat back up to medium. 

To the cooked beans in either the pressure cooker or pot, add more water if necessary (usually 1/2 cup for pressure cooker and 1-2 cups for pot), ground cumin, coriander, salt and spinach and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasoning and serve over white or brown rice for a complete, nutritious, calcium-rich meal. We served it here with a delicious potato raita (recipe coming soon!)