Hyacinth Bean

This climber was introduced to America in the 19th century as an ornamental plant. It flowers profusely and has beautiful purple or green pods. It is cultivated widely in North Africa and Asia for its edible pods, since 1700BC.

Scientific Name : Lablab purpureus

Common Names : Indian Bean, Egyptian Bean, Tonga Bean.

Malay Names : Kacang Sepat

Chinese Name : Pang Pei Dau ( 彭皮豆)

Tamil : Avarakkai

Native to Africa, Hyacinth bean made its way to India between 1600 and 1500 BC. It is cultivated widely in North Africa and Asia for its edible pods. Hyacinth beans were introduced to Europe in the 1700’s and to America in the 19th century as an ornamental plant1. It flowers profusely and has beautiful purple or green pods.

Growing :
The plant is an easy to grow climber with thick stem which is about 6 meters long. It requires well-drained soil and grows very rapidly. The flowers are purple or white while the fruit is a broadly scimitar and smooth pods which is bright purple to pale green. Like other legumes, it’s a potent nitrogen fixer, helping to enrich the soil4.

Eating :
Fresh lablab beans are harvested while unripe and used in the same way as green beans. They are also enjoyed in Japan as fujimame, in the Middle-East, Central America and Brazil. Dried beans can be used in the same way as other legumes, which it can replace in many other recipes2.

Dry beans contain a high amount of cyanogenic glycosides in them and must not be eaten raw. They have to be cooked by boiling or roasting as heat drives away the toxin. Dried beans have to be soaked overnight then boiling them a long time in a lot of water, twice preferably. Do not drink or use the boiled water3.

The leaves are also edible and contain more than 28% protein, 12% fiber, 7% minerals and 7% fat, eaten freshed or dried. They are an excellent source of iron and magnesium as well as a good source of phosphorus, zinc, copper, and thiamin. Beyond that, sprouts are edible and the cooked root is full of edible starch. You can even ferment the beans as with soy or make tofu3.


Nutritional :
Raw, mature seeds, Nutritive value per 100 g1:

Carbohydrates : 60.74g or 47% RDA
Protein : 23.90g or 43% RDA
Dietary Fiber : 25.6g or 67% RDA
Folates : 23μg or 6% RDA
Niacin : 1.610mg or 10% RDA
Riboflavin : 0.136mg or 10% RDA
Thiamin : 1.130mg or 94% RDA
Sodium : 21mg 1.5% RDA
Potassium : 1235mg or 26% RDA
Calcium : 130mg or 13% RDA
Copper : 1.335mg or 148% RDA
Iron : 5.10mg or 64% RDA
Magnesium : 283mg or 71% RDA
Manganese : 1.573mg or 68% RDA
Phosphorus : 0.372mg or 53% RDA
Selenium : 8.2μg or 15% RDA
Zinc : 9.30mg or 84% RDA

Fresh, immature pods carry very good levels of vitamin A, C and K. 100 g of fresh pods carry 864 IU (29% of DV) of vitamin A and 12.6 mg (21% of DV) of vitamin C.

References :

  1. Hyacinth beans – Lablab purpureus by Health Benefit times.com
  2. Hyacinth bean (lablab) nutrition facts by Nutrition And You.com
  3. Hyacinth Bean by Green Deane Eat The Weeds.com
  4.  Hyacinth bean vine, a versatile addition to the edible garden by Los Angeles Times.com

The contents and references in this posting are for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical professional before consuming this food either cooked or raw, especially if you have any medical conditions.