Bharazi (Pigeon Peas in Coconut Cream) Recipe

[Photograph: Jillian Atkinson]

This dish is easy to make and is especially delicious with mandazi, or sweet coconut donuts. When the Nimji family lived in Africa, vegetable peddlers went door to door to sell their freshly shelled pigeon peas. Noorbanu would buy them and make bharazi and mandazi for the family’s breakfast, which is when they were traditionally eaten.

Recipe by Noorbanu Nimji, from A Spicy Touch, copyright © 2020 by Noorbanu Nimji and Karen Anderson. Reprinted with permission of TouchWood Editions.

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  • Yield:Makes 4 servings
  • Active time:30 to 40 minutes
  • Total time:30 to 40 minutes, plus soaking time if using dry peas
  • Ingredients

    • 1 cup dry pigeon peas or 1 (19 ounces; 540 ml) can pigeon peas (use black pigeon peas)
    • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
    • 1 tablespoon finely cut onion
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomato (1 small)
    • 1 (13 ounces; 394 ml) can coconut milk or cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon Indian chilli powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric, optional
    • 1 whole chilli, slit down the sides (jalapeño or serrano)
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic paste (optional)
    • 1/2 teaspoon green chilli paste and/or sambal oelek, or to taste
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon finely cut coriander leaves


    1. 1.

      Soak the dry pigeon peas in water overnight then rinse in several changes of water, drain, then add 2 cups of fresh water and the peas to a saucepan and boil on high until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    2. 2.

      Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until light gold, then add the tomatoes and cook till soft and mushy.

    3. 3.

      Stir in the coconut milk or cream, chilli powder, turmeric (if using), whole chilli, garlic and chilli paste, and lemon juice together and cook on medium-high heat till it comes to a boil.

    4. 4.

      Stir in the cooked (or canned) pigeon peas, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.

    5. 5.

      Add the coriander leaves and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.

    6. 6.

      Enjoy with Mandazi for an amazing breakfast treat or as a vegetarian meal with coconut rice.

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