Until I learned about the simanim, the symbolic foods of the Rosh Hashana meal I had no idea that Jews ate black eyed peas. Like chitterlins and collard greens, I thought they belonged to the genre of African American cuisine known as soul food. Little did I know that this lovely legume feeds our neshomos too.
Known in Talmudical Aramaic, as Rubiya, a more elegant sounding name than black eyed peas, Rubiya is a sound-a-like to the Hebrew word Ribui which means increase. Therefore we recite a prayer for increase as we eat this legume. And don’t we want to increase ? As we sing at the close of every Shabbos. “may our money and our seed (children) increase like the sand and the stars in the nighttime sky.” Add to that our merits and good deeds.
Though, I’ve been serving Rubiya for years, I never really knew what to do with it. One year, I threw a handful into the brisket but most other years, I just boiled the peas up alone . Then my family would gulp them down like medicine. Yuck.
Recently, I found a solution –dress the rubiya up as a salad. While Ashkenazi purists will recoil at the notion of pouring lemon juice on the peas, Claudia Roden, says that her family ate this rubiya salad at their Rosh Hashana dinner back in Egypt.
Even if leave this dish off your Rosh Hashana menu, try it some other time. It’s rich and flavorful and it’s full of fiber and iron. Mix it with basmati rice or quinoa and chop in fresh tomato slices and you’ve got an incredibly healthy and delicious meal in one plate!.
1 lb or 500 gm black eyed peas. If they are dry soak for an hour If they are canned, drain. (you substitute brown or green lentils)
One mild onion chopped or two garlic cloves minced or pressed
4 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon cumin
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemnon
Boil the peas for about 20 minutes or until tender adding salt towards the end. Drain and add rest of the ingredients and mix well.