Lablab purpureus commonly known as the hyacinth bean, Indian bean, a
species of bean in the family Fabaceae, is widespread as a food crop
throughout the tropics, especially in Africa, India and Indonesia.
It is called avarai in Tamil. In western Maharashtra, especially
Konkan region, these beans are grown as vaal (वाल). It is also
called avarekaalu in Karnataka and is is very famous its its curries
(avarekalu saaru), salad (avarekaalu usli) and sometimes even the
outer peel of the seed is taken out and the inner soft part is used
for a variety of dishes. That form, hitakubele avarekalu, means
pressed (hitaku) hyancinth bean. A traditional food plant in Africa,
this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition,
boost food security, foster rural development and support
The hyacinth bean grows as a vine, producing purple flowers and
striking electric-purple coloured seed pods. Lablab bean is a good
choice for a quick screen on a trellis or fence. It grows fast, has
beautiful, fragrant flowers that attract butterflies and
hummingbirds, and it even produces edible leaves, flowers, pods,
seeds and roots. Dry seeds are poisonous due to high concentrations
of cyanogenic glucosides, and can only be eaten after prolonged
It is also grown as forage and as an ornamental plant. In addition,
this plant is also cited as a medicinal plant and a poisonous plant.
In Maharashtra, a special spicy curry, known as vaala che birde ,
is often used during fasting festivals during Shravan month.
In the Telangana region of India, bean pods are cut into small
pieces and cooked as spicy curry in Pongal festival season, along
with bajra bread; it has been a very special delicacy for centuries.
In Huế, Vietnam, it is the main igredient of the dish chè đậu ván.
In Kenya, it is known as njahi, and is popular among the Kikuyu
group. It is thought to encourage lactation and has historically
been the main dish for breastfeeding mothers. Beans are boiled and
mashed with ripe and/or semi ripe bananas, giving the dish a sweet