Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Ragout (Ndambe) (Tested)

Serves     6-8


Here is an easy recipe sure to please. Start to finish time is under an hour. You should be able to easily find the ingredients at your grocery store. I’ve called for using dried black-eyed peas, but you could use canned peas for a shortcut. But honestly, using dried peas does not add much time to the recipe. They cook pretty fast, and I think it’s worth the extra effort. This can be made a day ahead of time and rewarmed for serving. 


½ pound black-eyed peas (about 1 generous cup), soaked in water for 1 hour  

½ teaspoon salt 

2 tbsp. vegetable oil, or red palm oil 

1 onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup 

1 bell pepper (any color), finely chopped 

1 tbsp. finely chopped ginger 

½ pound plum tomatoes, chopped, about 1 heaping cup 

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, about 2 heaping cups 

Salt and pepper to taste

Senegalese Chile Sauce (optional)


Drain the peas, and put into a pot along with 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer, for about twenty minutes. Add the salt halfway through the cooking time. At the end of the twenty minutes the peas should be mostly tender. Be careful not to overcook, they will finish cooking in the ragout. Drain.

While the peas are cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat with the oil. Add the onion. bell pepper and ginger, sauté for a few minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Next add the tomatoes and allow to simmer for a few more minutes. Finally, add the sweet potatoes and enough water to barely cover, about 1 ½ cups. Cover the pan, and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, maybe still a bit firm in the middle. My sweet potatoes took only about 7 minutes to cook. If yours are larger they will take longer. They will cook further once the peas are added, so again I caution you not to overcook them.

Add the black-eyed peas to the sweet potatoes and simmer over low heat for ten more minutes to blend the flavors. Add salt to taste, and add a splash of additional water if necessary. 

I think this dish would be nicely complemented by the Senegalese Chile Sauce (Sous Kaani) also posted with this month’s recipes. 


Notes and Instructions

Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy

Adapted from “Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal,” by Pierre Thia