Is anyone eating green pigeon peas or green cowpeas?

I wonder if anyone in ECHO’s community has experience eating green pigeon peas, or green cowpeas? I think it would be more acceptable in the Laos mountain cultures than eating black seeded cowpea. We found thatthe black seeded, climbing cowpea that they usually have takes a very long time to cook, and given their cooking style (on the ground), that’s a barrier, along with the barrier of people not usually eating dried beans.

Hello Thomas! I enjoyed eating green cowpeas. I would pick them before the beans started to bulge in the pods, as I found that leaving them longer would allow them to get stringy. I steamed, sauted, or put themi in soups. Very yummy! The younger they are the more tender.

I agree that it is important to pick them early or they get tough and stringy.

I prefer both green the pigeon peas shelled though are great in rice thrown in at end of boil and just simmered, a few raw in salads or bean salsa are great to.

In Thailand, green, or unripe, cowpea is a common sight in the markets. Both the green and purple podded varieties, as well as the yard long beans, are easily found. The pods are eaten raw or stir fried, and some may even add it to a soup or eat them steamed. Raw cowpeas are commonly added to papaya salad and make a great vegetable to dip into chili sauce dip.

I have also seen pigeon peas eaten raw as a snack and have eaten it in a Lahu village boiled in a broth- very delicious, although a lot of work to harvest.

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Hi Thomas,

Here in Niger people also often pick a part of their cowpeas while they’re still green and enjoy eating them simply boiled in water. When they get nearer to maturity the strings on both side of the pod gets quite tough, but they simply pull the middle part of with their hands or teeth and eat that putting the strings to the side. Personally I don’t really care for that, but the really young and tender cowpeas are really nice and can easily be added to different dishes (you’d need a lot to make up a ful meal).

Jeannette (Maradi, Niger)

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Thanks to Jeanette and to all of you who responded. I really appreciate this.

I would also like to ask our ECHO Asia office if they have a selection of both cowpea and pidgeon pea varieties that are well adapted for SE Asia?

The first need I’m searching to fill is for a cowpea type that will function well as a legume cover crop—first for mountainside corn plots in Laos. It also needs to be edible and have a reasonable cooking time. The cowpea type known as black-eyed pea from the southern USA has the kind of cooking time I’m hoping to find. It would be great if there is someone in the SE Asia ECHO network who has already discovered the kind of cowpea that would meet this need.

But, I’m also wondering if pidgeon pea would find acceptance in family gardens, either in the villages or close to the villages. I’m wondering about pidgeon pea because I see that once the dry season reaches March, there are very few fresh, high nutrition vegetables available in the mountain villages of Laos, and there is also scacity in the lowland villages of Cambodia.


Tom Post

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In Panama, green pidgeon peas cooked with rice is the traditional dish eaten around Christmas–there is a black/purple and green mottled variety here that has an especially delicious aroma when cooking.

While a great home garden crop, most pidgeon peas only produce around Dec/Jan and perhaps into Feb, as they are light sensitive.

Happy growing!

i’m in Salavan Province. I know that people eat the pods when they are young. I have not seen anyone actually plant them as a crop. There is a description of the varieties that ECHO has in the seed catalog. One is described as a short creeping vine intercropped with upland rice. “Restoring the Soil” by Roland Brunch lists crawling cowpea as being grown in Laos. The book says that thousands are planting crawling cowpea with upland rice. I would like to get some crawling cowpea to try as an intercrop with cassava. My area is a new area for cassava but I don’t think that they are doing it sustainably. I am going to try various legume intercrops as soon as I get enough seed.

#hello Thomas
You can eats the pods and the seeds inside too. The younger the better. Here in Nagaland, it’s too common. You can even eat the seeds after it reached maturity. But you will have to soak so that the seeds appears to be soft and can cooked or fried

In the American south cowpeas are primarily consumed as immature seeds. Sometimes they are eaten as "shells and snaps’’ which is a mix of immature seeds and the very young pods without much seed development. This is done primarily for the preference of the taste of the green peas as well as lower flatulence. The preference is so strong that they are often preserved at this stage by freezing or canning at considerable expense compared to storing dry peas. There are two huge practical advantages to eating green cowpeas:

  1. The plants will bear much longer when picked closely leaving no dry peas.
  2. The troublesome weevil whose larvae eat your peas has its life cycle interrupted, reducing crop loss without insecticide.
    The downside is a lower protein content in the green peas.
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Hi Larry!

Thanks for your excellent input. Good to hear from you.