A recipe unlike most others I report on recently offered a taste of US history that made everyone proud. Who knew that black heroes fought so hard in the American revolutionary war? Many of them were slaves, like Ishmael Titus and his brother Primus (Primes) all over the Eastern seaboard.
Most especially at the battle of King’s Mountain, Ishmael recently was celebrated with his image being laid down in bronze; set into stone on Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC. I was honored to listen to Ken Lemon, Premiere Guest Speaker, of ABC WSOC TV talk about, “the double threat of being killed in warfare and also being a slave in AMerica is a perplexing burden to consider.” Certainly, the masters whip legally splitting backs open with blood – is a scary proposition typically only seen today in an illegal prison. In some far off country. That no one wants to go to.
On May 20th, Charlotte Mecklenburg Declaration Day (Meck-Dec Day for slang) saw the Titus family researcher of today, Solomon Titus Taylor, awarded with the Presidential Service Center Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) in downtown Charlotte.
We have black eyed peas and okra in America to enjoy each day – which were brought from West Africa where Ishmael is from. With that in mind, take a look at several dishes right here from CNN Worldwide as reported on by Jane-Anne Hobbs. “One dish you shouldn’t leave… without eating is jollof rice, a great favorite all over West Africa, and one that is thought may be the origin of the Cajun dish jambalaya.” This also was recently reported on by LA Weekly from Sarah Bennett (yummy). The Washington Post and Sarah L. Voisin showcased a terrific photo of how Jollof Rice can look when served nicely with black eyed peas. For me, this is the perfect dish to make the next time the Titus family visits here.
SERVINGS: 6 – 8
Yield: Makes 7 cups of vegetable and 5 1/2 cups of rice
14.5- or 15-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, such as Muir Glen brand, with their juices
2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
About 1 cup chopped carrots
About 2 cups chopped green cabbage
2 tablespoons tomato paste, preferably double-concentrated
1 3/4 cups homemade or canned no-salt-added black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (from a 15-ounce can; see NOTE)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
Sea salt or kosher salt, for garnish (optional)
Drain the tomatoes and reserve them, straining the juices into a 4-cup measuring cup. Add water as needed to total 4 cups, then transfer the liquid to a large saucepan. Add the rice and bring to a boil over high heat; stir and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes, until the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and garlic; stir to coat, then cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the carrots and cabbage, tomato paste, drained tomatoes, black-eyed-peas, turmeric, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 4 minutes, until the mixture is thoroughly warmed through and the vegetables achieve the desired consistency.
To serve, divide the rice among individual plates or transfer to a serving bowl. Spoon the vegetable mixture on top. Garnish with the parsley and salt, if desired. Be sure to see the photo.
NOTE: To cook the 1 3/4 cups of black-eyed peas needed for this recipe, place 4 ounces of dried black-eyed peas in a bowl and cover with water by an inch or so. Let sit for 8 hours, then drain and place in a medium saucepan. Cover with (fresh) water by an inch or so; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 90 minutes, until tender.
Thank you to Scott Syfert and the May 20th Society (Mec Dec) for all of their help to the American Revolutionary War Living History Center, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Sons of the American Revolution with Mark C Anthony and the entire Solomon Taylor family representing the TITUS family. See more on Facebook, here: https://www.facebook.com/mongiello/posts/10204290610328709?pnref=story