Red Red with Fried Plantains Recipe

A traditional Red Red recipe featuring black eyed peas and a side of fried plantains.

Summer 2013

  • Red Red is often served with a side of fried plantains.
    Photo by Wendy Kiang-Spray

Yield: 4 servings

Red Red is a traditional, spicy, black-eyed pea stew named for the red of the palm oil, tomatoes, and hot peppers. It’s a favorite casual lunch dish in Ghana where it’s usually served with fried ripe plantains, also known as red plantains. Red palm oil has a distinct flavor and has recently been touted to have significant health benefits. Natural food markets may carry sustainably sourced red palm oil from free trade companies, but my local stores have not been reliably stocked. African or international grocery stores typically carry the oil.


• 2 cups dried black-eyed peas

• 3/4 cup red palm oil

• 2 onions, chopped

• Hot chili peppers, minced (choice of pepper and amount to taste — I use 4 habaneros)

• 6 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 inch piece of ginger, minced

• 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

• 3 tablespoons tomato paste

• Salt and black pepper

• 3 ripe plantains

• Oil for frying


1. Prepare black-eyed peas by soaking dried peas in plenty of water in a large pot overnight. Rinse, drain and pick over peas and then place back in pot. Cover by 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.

2. While peas are cooking, begin the stew by heating palm oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add peppers, garlic, and ginger and stir for a minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. As tomatoes soften, crush the tomatoes to create a sauce, simmering for another 10 minutes.

3. When peas are cooked, drain any excess water and return peas to pot. Stir the red sauce into the peas. Cook over medium heat, stirring until incorporated and heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Peel plantains, then cut diagonal lengthwise into thin slices. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a deep skillet. When hot but not smoking, deep fry plantains, flipping once until both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve Red Red with a side of plantains.

Learn more about plantains, black-eyed peas, and other fruits and vegetables of African origin in the article Taste of Africa.

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