We all know that pulses are good for us. But more often than not, the focus is on three-four kinds of dals like chickpea, moong, arhar and rajma. Among the unsung heroes is the humble lobia (black-eyed peas). “I know so many households who don’t even buy this any more as part of their regular grocery shopping. This is unfortunate as the benefits of this lentil/bean are immense,” says Shalini Garwin Bliss, executive dietitian at the Columbia Asia Hospital in Gurgaon, near Delhi. “Not only is it low in calories (one cup, cooked, provides just 160 calories), high in fibre (8g) and fat-free, it is also loaded with nutrients like calcium, magnesium and iron, besides being a powerhouse of protein (5g),” adds Nivedita Singh, nutritionist at the Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Gurgaon.
Powerhouse of vitamins
All pulses are a good source of folate, or vitamin B9, which is needed to produce and maintain new cells, even red blood cells. “This vitamin is also essential to reduce neural tube defects in babies, and hence it is a must in the diet of a pregnant woman,” says Suvarna Mane, chief dietitian at the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai.
Of course, folate content varies among pulses; lobia,however, packs it in. “One cup cooked black-eyed peas contain 200mg of folate, and the same size serving of pink beans (masoor dal) and red gram dal (arhar) deliver about 150mg,” says Singh. A study published in the Public Health journal in 2013 showed that folate plays a protective role and helps reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Lobia also contains vitamin B1, or thiamine, which helps maintain the health of nerves and is also essential for glucose metabolism in the body, and vitamin A, a vision-enhancing nutrient. When you combine it with other vitamin A-rich sources like carrot, spinach, broccoli, and have it, say, in the form of a lobia salad, you can get a dish that is great for your eyes. “Vitamin A is great for healthy skin and is also an antioxidant that helps boost immunity. Also, one antioxidant lobia delivers which is hard to find in other foods is mineral manganese, which protects mitochondria, the structures inside cells that produce energy,” adds Singh.
“Lobia is loaded with fibre, and the kind it has is known as soluble fibre, which binds to cholesterol and helps throw it out of the body, besides keeping constipation away,” says Bliss. Fibre also boosts satiety and that’s why lobia is every weight-watcher’s friend too. Research published in 2010, in the journal Advances In Nutrition, indicates as much.
The potassium in lobia helps balance the excess sodium in our diets and keeps the blood pressure at a healthy level. “Potassium also enhances muscle strength and metabolism, nurtures the nervous system and helps keep the bones strong,” says Bliss.
There are interesting ways to eat it apart from making the usual lobia curry. “In fact, this bland-tasting food is versatile and pairs well with most foods (potatoes, rice, tuna, ham, in particular) and that’s why it is a chef’s delight,” says Nishant Choubey, executive chef, The Roseate, New Delhi.
1 cup ‘lobia’, soaked and boiled
4-5 bread slices
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
3 tsp ‘ghee’
Half tsp caraway seeds (‘shahi jeera’)
Half tsp white pepper powder
Salt, to taste
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
Half tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
10-12 cashew nuts
1 tbsp ‘chironji’
1 medium onion, cut into thin slices
1 lemon, cut into round slices
Finely chop the ginger and green chillies. Heat 1 tsp ‘ghee’ in a non-stick pan, add ginger and green chillies and sauté for a minute. Add caraway seeds and sauté. Add ‘lobia’ and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add white pepper powder, salt and turn off the heat. Trim and discard the sides of the bread slices and cut the bread into small cubes. Soak in water, squeeze and keep in a bowl. Add ‘lobia’ and mix well. Add garam masala powder, mint leaves and mix well. Heat the remaining ‘ghee’ in a pan; add cashew nuts, ‘chironji’ and sauté. Drain, cool and chop. Add it to the ‘lobia’ mixture and mix well.
Apply ‘ghee’ on your palms, divide the ‘lobia’ mixture into equal portions and shape into ‘tikkis’, place them in the pan, a few at a time, and shallow-fry on both sides till golden brown. Separate the onion slices and soak them in chilled water. Transfer the ‘tikkis’ on to a serving plate, garnish with onion and lemon slices and serve hot.
Lobia Kra Pao with Thai Chili and Lime
50g Thai chili (bird’s-eye chili)
20ml lime juice
10ml dark soy sauce
100g Thai basil
20g black bean sauce
20ml vegetable stock
5g corn starch
20ml sesame oil
Salt, to taste
Boil the ‘lobia’ in water till soft. Add salt while boiling. Drain and cool.
Blend it roughly in a blender. Slice garlic, chop ‘galangal’, lemongrass, celery, Thai chili. Take a dry wok, add sesame oil , add the garlic, ‘galangal’, lemongrass and Thai chili and stir-fry for some time. Add the ‘lobia’, black bean sauce, dark soy sauce, lime juice and vegetable stock. Finish with corn starch, dissolved in a tablespoon of water, and basil.
Check for seasoning and serve hot.
Recipes by Nishant Choubey, executive chef, The Roseate, New Delhi.