Winged Bean (Asparagus Pea)
Winged beans are typical to humid climatic regions. Vines of this bean can be easily noticed grown in many places in tropical regions for its nutritious beans and nitrogen fixation properties. Legumes from this tropical plant are not the only edible parts as different parts of the plants are also eaten. The unusual name of this plant is endowed due to the physical appearance of the beans which seem to have wing like features. The plant has several common names like Asparagus Pea, Goa bean and Four-angled bean. Beans from this fast growing plant are made into different recipes and relished with rice or bread.
Winged Bean (Asparagus Pea)
Psophocarpus tetragonolobus is the scientific name of this plant.
Plant and Description
This plant is a multipurpose crop. Some characteristic features of this plant are:
Height : Height of the vines varies between 3 and 4 meters.
Bean pod : The pods have frilly borders and measure around 6 and 9 inches in length. They also have 4 rows of wing type features on them.
Seeds : Winged been seeds burst out from ripe pods which become brownish at the time of ripening.The beans are round in shape and emits an aroma which is similar to that of asparagus.
Flower : Light blue colored flowers adorn these plants.
These legumes are widely grown in equatorial regions towards the west of Indian Ocean at the sea level. Many varieties of them are grown in USA. They may also grow in high altitudes like in New Guinea, Myanmar and Assam. Production of these beans also takes place in Reunion Island and eastern Papua New Guinea. Apart from Asian countries like India and Sri Lanka they are cultivated in Africa, Australia and Hawaii as well.
It is grown for edible tubers as well as beans. For best results it can be grown in sandy loamy soils that have low organic content. Sow it in a moist soil. Frost is bad for it but it can tolerate high temperature. Ample rainfall is good for it to grow into mature plants producing nutritious legumes. Full sun is ideal for the growth of these plants. The pods can be harvested after 3 months of planting.
To be blessed with optimum health, winged beans are simply ideal. Some of the health benefits derived by eating them are:
- When compared to variety of legumes, these beans contain the highest proportion of calcium which make bones strong and prevents breakage.
- Vitamins A and C along with several minerals make up the legumes that endow the body with powers to fight diseases.
- These edible seeds and its wing-like leaves are a vital source of protein.
- Its flour is an excellent supplement of protein.
There are no known side effects of this legume but careful consumption is important to avoid allergies.
Legumes can be very nutritious during pregnancy but some women might be allergic to certain components for which prior consultation with the physician may help.
Nutritional value derived from 180g of seeds, fresh pod and root have been depicted below.
|Amount per servingCalories 744||Dietary value%|
|Fat 30 g||46%|
|Saturated fat 4g||21%|
|Sodium 69 mg||3%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Carbohydrate 76 g||25%|
|Protein 54 g|
Get some lip smacking recipe ideas of winged beans.
- These legumes can be made into stew with coconut milk.
- It can be added into salads by lightly blanching it.
- Winged beans can be lightly fried with other nutritious vegetables.
- Sri Lankan winged bean recipes include various fried and curry dishes.
Winged Bean Uses
Some of the uses of the winged beans have been listed here.
- Winged beans can be dried and pressed to obtain powder which can be made into a drink or bread.
- Roots of winged beans can be eaten like potatoes.
- Like spinach, leaves of this plant can be prepared and eaten.
- It can be pressed in to oil which can be use for cooking.
- Tender leaves of this plant can be eaten cooked or raw and flowers can also be stir-fried like mushrooms.
- The pods can be added to soups, curries and stews of different types. Immature seeds can be consumed like green peas.
- Legumes can also be turned into curd by sprouting it, similar to tofu.
- It can be added to corn for making a high protein dish which can replenish protein deficiency.
- In Sri Lanka, these winged beans are combined in recipes for pickles.
- Leaves of the plant might be helpful in treating ailments like skin ulcers, mumps, puffed eyes and boils.
- Flowers of this plant can be used for making food colorings.
Almost the whole bean plant is edible apart from the beans, including roots, flowers and leaves.
Including legumes in every day diet replenishes deficiencies which lead to several ailments. Winged beans are high in protein and they can be eaten in various forms. This is also a lucrative crop as flowers, roots and leaves can also be harvested for different culinary utilities.
How to buy and store Winged beans
To keep them fresh, you can store them in a plastic bag with its neck tightly tied. Place it in the refrigerator for best results. You can buy them from your local grocery store but make sure they are fresh and not wilting.
Some images of this Winged Bean listed here will help you in its identification.
- by Sean Northampton
- 9th November 2016
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