Cluster Bean

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

cluster bean Cyamopsis tetragonoloba, a leguminous plant known also as guar, whose pods grow in groups looking something like small bunches of bananas. It may be native to the Indian subcontinent, where it has been grown for centuries, mainly as a forage crop or for green manure. The young pods may be cooked in curry-type dishes, or fried. Sometimes the fully developed seeds are eaten as a vegetable.

In the 1950s it was discovered that the bean yields a gum which is of value in the food industry as an emulsifier, thickener, and stabilizer for salad dressings, ice cream, and other products. The plant is now cultivated in the south-west of the USA, and elsewhere, as a source of guar gum.