Rinse and pick through the black-eyed peas. Put in a pot and fill with water to cover by 2 inches. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Cook partially covered until beans are soft, up to one hour. Set aside to drain for up to 30 minutes to prevent beans from getting mushy.
In a large pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add cumin seeds and fry. Stir until seeds are fragrant (about 20 seconds).
Reduce heat to medium and add the onions. Fry while stirring, until transparent. Add ginger-garlic paste. Stir and cook until soft and pinkish in color.
Add the tomatoes, raise the heat to medium high, and stir until tomatoes are soft.
Turn off heat. Let mixture cool. Blend with ½ cup of water in a blender until a paste-like consistency forms. Add paste to the same pan along with the remaining water, spices, and salt (to taste). Let cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.
Add black-eyed peas to the curry, and cook for 5 minutes.
Serve with rice and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
Note: Red chili powder is an Indian spice similar to cayenne pepper. (It is not to be confused with Mexican chili powder.) If you don’t like spicy food, start out with ½ teaspoon of the chili powder and increase to taste.
For a Western twist, consider adding carrots, corn, and/or spinach.