Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Genus: Psophocarpus
Botanical name: Psophocarpus tetragonolobus
Hindi: Charkoni Sem
English: Goa bean, Asparagus pea, Four-angled bean, Winged pea
Malayalam: Chathura payar
Chathura Payar grows as a vine with climbing stems, up to 3-4 m in height. It is an herbaceous perennial, but can be grown as an annual. Leaves are compound with 3 leaflets. The leaflets are more or less triangular, tapering to an acute point, about 3-6 in long and almost as wide at the widest point. The large flowers are pale blue, but vary in colour in cultivars. They are larger than green bean flowers, a little more than 1 inch long, and hang in loose clusters of 2-10 flowers. The bean pod is easy to identify - it is typically 6-9 inches long and has four wings with frilly edges running lengthwise. The skin is waxy and the flesh partially translucent in the young pods. When the pod is fully ripe, it turns an ash-brown colour and splits open to release the seeds. The beans themselves are similar to soybeans in both use and nutritional content. The fruits are used as a vegetable but the other parts (leaves, flowers and tuberous roots) are also edible. The young shoots and leaves may be eaten raw or cooked as vegetables.
Whole plant is edible, the beans used as vegetable; but the other parts –leaves, flowers and roots–are also edible. Flowers used as rice and pastry colorant.
Young leaves can be pickled or prepared as vegetable, like spinach. Good source of vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. The seeds contain 35% protein and 18% oil.
Chathura Payar
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