Pigeon Pea

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

pigeon pea Cajanus cajan, a legume which is probably native to tropical Africa, although India is the centre of diversity. Wherever it originated, it is now grown throughout the tropical regions of the world. Its resistance to drought and its generally hardy nature make it suitable for being grown on poor land by small farmers.

The botanical name comes from kacang, the Malay word for a pea or bean of any kind.

Over 90 per cent of the world crop of the pigeon pea is produced in India, and it is there that it has most importance as food. Some seeds are consumed as green peas, but most are turned into dal (split pulse). More dal is made from pigeon peas than from any other legume except channa (chickpea).