|Ripe, opened black-eyed pea in pod associated with developing pods|
|Subspecies:||V. u. subsp. unguiculata|
|Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata
The black-eyed pea or black-eyed bean, a legume, is a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized, edible bean. The common commercial one is called the California Blackeye; it is pale-colored with a prominent black spot. A common variation of the black-eyed pea is the purple hull pea; it is usually green with a prominent purple or pink spot. The currently accepted botanical name for the black-eyed pea is Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata, although previously it was classified in the genus Phaseolus. Vigna unguiculata subsp. dekindtiana is the wild relative and Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis is the related asparagus bean. Other beans of somewhat similar appearance, such as the frijol ojo de cabra (goat's eye bean) of northern Mexico, are sometimes incorrectly called black-eyed peas, and vice versa.
The first domestication probably occurred in West Africa, but the black-eyed pea is widely grown in many countries in Asia; it was introduced into the Southern United States as early as the 17th century in Virginia. Most of the black-eyed pea cultivation in the region, however, took firmer hold in Florida and the Carolinas during the 18th century, reaching Virginia in full force following the American Revolution. The crop would also eventually prove popular in Texas. Throughout the South, the black-eyed pea is still a widely used ingredient in soul food and various types of Southern U.S. cuisine. The planting of crops of black-eyed peas was promoted by George Washington Carver because, as a legume, it adds nitrogen to the soil and has high nutritional value. Black-eyed peas contain calcium (41 mg) folate (356 mcg), protein (13.22 g), fiber (11.1 g) and vitamin A (26 IU), among other nutrients, all for less than 200 Calories, in a 171-g, one-cup serving.
This heat-loving crop should be sown after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Seeds sown too early will rot before germination. Black-eyed peas are extremely drought tolerant, so excessive watering should be avoided.
The crop is relatively free of pests and disease. Root-knot nematodes can be a problem, especially if crops are not rotated. As a nitrogen-fixing legume, fertilization can exclude nitrogen three weeks after germination.
The blossom produces nectar plentifully, and large areas can be a source of honey. Because the bloom attracts a variety of pollinators, care must be taken in the application of insecticides to avoid label violations.
Lucky New Year food
In the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the new year.
The "good luck" traditions of eating black-eyed peas at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (compiled circa 500 CE), Horayot 12A: "Abaye [d. 339 CE] said, now that you have established that good-luck symbols avail, you should make it a habit to see qara (bottle gourd), rubiya (black-eyed peas, Arabic lubiya), kartei (leeks), silka (either beets or spinach), and tamrei (dates) on your table on the New Year." However, the custom may have resulted from an early mistranslation of the Aramaic word rubiya (fenugreek).
A parallel text in Kritot 5B states one should eat these symbols of good luck. The accepted custom (Shulhan Aruh Orah Hayim 583:1, 16th century, the standard code of Jewish law and practice) is to eat the symbols. This custom is followed by Sephardi and Israeli Jews to this day.
In the United States, the first Sephardi Jews arrived in Georgia in the 1730s, and have lived there continuously since. The Jewish practice was apparently adopted by non-Jews around the time of the American Civil War.
Another suggested beginning of the tradition dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, typically stripped the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock, and destroyed whatever they could not carry away. At that time, Northerners considered "field peas" and field corn suitable only for animal fodder, and did not steal or destroy these humble foods.
In the Southern United States, the peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar.
The traditional meal also includes collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread also often accompanies this meal.
Culinary uses worldwide
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||484 kJ (116 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||6.5 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
In Greece, Turkey (Börülce salatası), and Cyprus, black-eyed peas are eaten with vegetables, oil, salt, and lemon. in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon Lobya or green black-eyed-beans are cooked with onion, garlic, tomatoes, peeled and chopped, olive oil, salt and black pepper.
In the northern part of Colombia, they are used to prepare a fritter called buñuelo. The beans are immersed in water for a few hours to loosen their skins and soften them. The skins are then removed either by hand or with the help of a manual grinder. Once the skins are removed, the bean is ground or blended, and eggs are added, which produces a soft mix. The mix is fried in hot oil. It makes a nutritious breakfast meal.
In India, black-eyed peas is called Lobia or Rongi and is cooked as daal, served with boiled rice. In Kannada a south Indian language it is also called Alsande Kalu, and is popularly used in preparation of huli, a type curry.
In Guyana, South America it is the most popular type of peas cooked with rice. It is also cooked as a snack or appetizer on its own. New Year's Eve(referred to as Old Years Night in Guyana and Surinam), families cook a traditional dish called cook-up rice. The dish comprises rice, black-eyed peas, and other peas and a variety of meats cooked in coconut milk and seasonings. According to tradition, cook-up rice should be the first thing consumed in the New Year for good luck. Cook-up rice is also made as an everyday dish.
In Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia, especially in the city of Salvador, black-eyed peas are used in a traditional street food of Nigerian origin called akara. The beans are peeled and mashed, and the resulting paste is made into balls and deep fried in dendê. Acarajé is typically served split in half and stuffed with vatapá, caruru, diced green and red tomatoes, fried sun-dried shrimp and homemade hot sauce.
In Indonesia, black-eyed peas are called kacang tunggak or kacang tolo in the local language. They are commonly used in curry dishes such as sambal goreng, a kind of hot and spicy red curry dish, sayur brongkos, or sayur lodeh.
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- "On New Year's Day, it gets the full Southern treatment, which usually means Hoppin' John – a traditional soul food consisting of black-eyed peas cooked with ham hocks and spices, served over rice. In the South, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's is thought to bring prosperity" Celebrate New Year's with black-eyed peas by Rachel Ellner December 31, 2008 Nashua Telegraph
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- Houston, Lynn Marie (2005). Food Culture in the Caribbean. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-313-32764-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vigna unguiculata.|
- ARS-Grin.gov USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network – (GRIN) Online Database . National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. (16 July 2005)
- Plantnames.unimelb.edu.au Porcher Michel H. et al. 1995–2020, Sorting Vigna Names. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database (M.M.P.N.D) – A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia. (2005).
- Alternative Field Crops Manual: Cowpea
- Vigna unguiculata in West African plants – A Photo Guide.