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We have some friends from Trinidad Tobago and they were complaining that they can't get pigeon peas. So I said I'll grow some for them.

You can get 'seed' supplies from Green Harvest and other seed places, but PPs are also a Indian grocers standard I recall in my foraging. Am I right?

Any legume junkies out there, I'm asking: 'Do wholefoods stores  also stock them?'

They are sold here as chicken food and a cover crop, but their culinary aspects are quite strong in certain cuisines.

I had made a big pot of  pelau and that requires PP. What an interesting dish that is.

So I'm asking for supply suggestions without having to go to too much fuss.

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Well I think Pigeon Peas are standardly fed to poultry. It is viewed as excellent  forage. The Qld Dept of Ag has a discussion about feeding legumes to livestock (including poultry ) HERE.

My take away is this:

  • any dried legume should be cooked to subdue its toxins both for animals and humans. That suggests how you cook your dried beans is important. Pressure cooking AFTER soaking makes sense.
  • however 'fresh' beans -- young ones/green beans -- are not so toxic as the old --dried -- ones.So a garden green pea is fine but when it ages and dries it 'becomes' a bean and its toxic quotient rises.
  • I was interested in Pigeon Peas because they are eaten fresh and young in some cuisines,  rather than prepared from dried stock. They also a Dal favorite in India, eaten by millions every day.

I thought my abstinence from beans was a dietary quirk, but after doing some homework I do see the point.

I can't find anything specific about PPS but generally on the toxic aspect, this is a good summary:

This reaction to kidney beans is not very common because the beans are not often eaten raw. They are usually dried and require several hours of cooking before they are soft enough to eat. PHA in beans is deactivated and reduced to safe levels by as little as ten minutes of boiling. Other means of heating are less effective and may actually increase the level of PHA, as will heating below the boiling point. For this reason, such foods as chili should not be made with kidney beans in a slow cooker at the low setting without first boiling the beans.

For the safest results in cooking dried kidney beans, they should first be soaked for several hours, the soaking water discarded, then brought to the boil in fresh water and cooked for at least ten minutes.

Red kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) have by far the highest concentrations of PHA. The white variety known as cannellini has only about a third of the level of the red kidney beans, but still enough to cause problems if not properly cooked. Kidney beans should never be sprouted for use in salads, and it is not likely that stir-frying kidney bean sprouts is safe, either. The presence of PHA is not, however, limited to beans of the species P vulgaris. It has also been found in significant levels in fava beans (Vicia faba).

Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) can also be quite dangerous when consumed raw, but in this case the culprit is a different toxin altogether: linamarin, a cyanogenic glucoside. This is the same toxic substance found in cassava root.

Individuals vary in their sensitivity to PHA, so it is probably a good idea when cooking to treat all dried beans as if they were kidney beans, and to cook fresh mature beans (shellie beans) at least long enough to deactivate the toxin. Gardeners, in particular, should be a aware of the potential dangers of raw beans if they like to "graze" in their gardens, eating the fresh raw seeds directly from the shell. The level of PHA in all varieties is not known.

Green beans (snap beans) are a questionable matter. Many people do like to eat young green beans raw, and overcooking green beans until mushy is widely regarded as a sin against the vegetable. I can find no clear evidence that raw green beans have PHA levels high enough to make them unsafe for most of the population. It should be noted that the level of PHA is highest in seeds, and green beans are usually consumed for the sake of the green fleshy pod, at a stage when the seeds are only beginning to develop. And they do taste so good that I'm likely to take the chance.

That is very interesting about the toxins in mature beans. I graze on my Madagascar/Lima beans all the time. Most are young and toxin free (according to the blurb I just read) but some of them are turning pink and maturing. I will now avoid eating those raw :/

I also cook Lima beans from raw as a snack. Usually they just get covered with water and boiled until soft. I will try to remember that they need to be soaked and the water discarded before boiling.

I might put this up as a separate topic as the main thread is about pigeon pea.

My Grandmother taught us to prepare dried beans very specifically, but with no explanation really as to why. I always thought this was to "de-gas" the beans. Maybe it had more to do with the toxins.

-"Always put them through '3 waters' " (the process of covering the beans with cold water in a big bowl or pan, rubbing them well between your hands, then draining the water);

-then cover with plenty of fresh water and add baking soda (a subjective amount, maybe about 1 T) and let them soak overnight;

-Drain and rinse well, then cover with fresh water and cook until tender.

I had no idea whatsoever about all this as my bean period was way back...and I just boiled them any old how. Since my one indulgences are Dal  lentils and chick peas -- the latter usually out of a can -- it was easy for me to give up legumes...but I do love houmous and have made many variations of that wonderful paste. It's a Middle Eastern standard and that''s the cuisine I've been mainly cooking for decades.While I knew their dangers, fresh broad beans are also popular in Mediterranean cooking....but....

Of note is the consequences of broad beans for many prone individuals:Favism.This also begins to  explains why beans are not central to Mediterranean tucker -- unlike their pride-of-place role in the Indian subcontinent or the Latin Americas.

The bean has given its name to favism, a genetic condition that has been described since antiquity. It has been suggested that the Pythagorean ban on consuming beans could be a result of the effects of favism on certain individuals.

It is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, and worldwide affects 400 million people, mainly of Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern descent.

On contact with broad bean products, susceptible individuals suffer a severe reaction, resulting in haemolytic anaemia. Some individuals are so sensitive that even inhaling broad bean pollen can elicit a reaction, the mechanism of which is still not well understood.

To be fair, a lot of plant foods have toxic components and attributes.Oxalic acids in greens. Glutens in grains. The chemistry mix on the husks of whole grains is suspect... That eating white bread or rice may be better for you than wholefoods seems counter intuitive. That digging into a feed of liver and onions is safer than some vegetables you could put in your mouth seems a very radical notion. 

But the logic is plants seek to protect themselves from being eaten or overwhelmed by competition. So they deploy poisons to do that.

The complication is, I reckon, in trying to reduce the toxic contents of these foods do we also destroy their nutritional attributes? It's win:lose.

Even the leafy greens come with the complication that eaten raw --  spinach, lettuce, cabbage, arugula and kale — they may carry contaminants.Indeed they are one of the riskiest food groups.

And if you eat these things and get a toxic hit -- your body supposedly is designed to cope...unless...With a daughter who has had long term IBS issues I've been taking a keen interest in the side effects of eating certain foods.

But I reckon the best rule of thumb is Jack Sprat's:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.

Your Grandmother obviously knew what she was about Jan.

I'm a "dump them in water and cook them" kind've person. I will try very hard to break a lifetime of habit and now put a bit more prep into them. My own Grandma used to soak them before cooking but we never discussed the whys.

On the whole bean and toxins thing, especially phyric acid:

  • Soaking Beans: an excellent overview of the science of soaking, offering some smart short ciuts.Lots of great info on the site about beanology.She doesn't necessarily think sprouting is absolutely necessary..

My method:
Warm your water in a kettle and combine boiling water with your filtered or tap water. Cover the beans with water and put them in a warm place. I begin to soak my beans in the morning on the day before I plan to cook them. As they absorb water, I add more warm water. I don’t pretend to achieve or maintain 140 º Fahrenheit [60 C], but I give the beans plenty of soaking time.(She elsewhere recommends around 18 hours)  You will find that with this method, you will digest the beans better too.

After soaking, I rinse the beans and cook them according to the recipe. They will cook much more quickly than a recipe that starts with beans that are not soaked.

More useful stuff:

I FOUND THEM!!! Pigeon Peas (food not seed) for sale in bulk.

They are sold here as "Toor Dal". You can Google them and find shops, but here are a couple of sites to get you started:

Toor Dal-5Kg

Iah Toor Dal Indian 1Kg


(Also called "Arhar Dal".)

Here's an organic shop, but they are out of stock. You could always email to see if they'll be getting them back in stock.

I must have added this info to another thread: Pigeon Peas are about $3.50/kgm from Geeta Enterprises in Fortitude Valley (McWhirter Centre) but they should be  available  form most Indian shops.

They are locally grown in Australia so they'd be climate suitable.There are many varieties  of PPs -- developed both in India and the Caribbean so I guess it's about what you can get.

To complicate matters: the ones you reference, Jan, seem to be 'husked' or split ..and are the yellow variety. Whereas the ones I purchased in the Valley are whole and look like this:

As Wikipedia points out Split Peas (actually a pea and related to green garden peas : Pisum sativum.):

They are peeled, in that in addition to not being in the seed pod in which they grew, the splitting process also removes the dull colored outer skin of the pea. They come in yellow and green varieties. The peas are round when harvested and dried. Once dry, after the skin is removed, the natural split in the seed's cotyledon can be manually or mechanically separated, in part to encourage faster cooking due to increasing the surface area exposed to heat....Yellow split peas may sometimes be confused with the Indian toor dal (split pigeon peas) or chana dal (split yellow gram, desi chickpeas); while all are commonly known as peas, the latter are from other legume species.

Now I'm thinking that aside from being a different species & not a bean -- the 'splitting' would not make them useful as seed. Pigeon Peas may be called peas but they're beans.

But my Trinidadian friend assures me that what I've got are dried Pigeon Peas.

I thought your neighbours were looking for a place to buy them for cooking (as opposed to growing) and I believe that they are normally sold split and hulled. There are all manner of places to buy the seed.

Toor Dal (AKA. Toovar Dal, Arhar Dal & and a few other names is definitely Pigeon Peas and it even specifically says that on that Organic site (which is currently out of stock). Not sure why they look yellow online. Mine are a plain sort of creamy colour inside like the photo shown on this page.

At any rate, I'm glad you found some. You may find that if you plant some of those you bought, they are the short variety, which I think is more of an annual and is more often grown commercially. I suppose they are faster to bloom and easier to pick, but from my experience, you don't get anywhere near the quantity that you do from the tall ones. (Holy cats, there are a lot of beans on those trees!)

The peas on my trees are maturing now. Oddly, they grow their pods until they get to their full size, THEN the beans start to grow, rather than growing and expanding along with the beans inside.

You end up with masses of big pods on the trees, complete with "bean-shaped-bumps", but with what looks and feels like nothing in them. 

Eventually, once the pods are full-grown, the beans grow into the spaces created inside the pods. (I was beginning to think I had sterile trees!)

These have done so well, I'll be planting more of them and may even give up on trying to grow most other beans.

They really are a cracker of a plant Jan ,are yours the red. or yellow flower,If the chook pellet mob went on strike my pigeon peas would keep  my hens going alone then I have those Madagascars wow!These two plants would have to be near the top for any edible gardeners in general ,forget the survival garden term.

Darren, I've got some that are pure yellow, some yellow with bright red, and some yellow with bright red stripes. All massively productive! Mine are just finishing up flowering, and all of the peas are starting to "fill-in". I couldn't even speculate on how many peas I'll be bringing in. Definitely enough for a big pot of Dahl! (About the only ingredient for it that I'm not growing is cumin.)

I'm already scouting for more places to plant them!


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