Black-eyed pea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the species of legume. For the restaurant, see Black-eyed Pea (restaurant). For the music group, see The Black Eyed Peas.
Black-eyed pea
Black-eyed pea pods on plant in Hong Kong.jpg
Ripe, opened black-eyed pea in pod associated with developing pods
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Vigna
Species: V. unguiculata
Subspecies: V. u. subsp. unguiculata
Trinomial name
Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata
(L.) Walp.
Black-eyed peas, in and out of the shell

The black-eyed pea, black-eyed bean or goat pea, a legume, is a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized, edible bean.

The common commercial variety is called the California Blackeye; it is pale-colored with a prominent black spot. In the American South there are countless varieties, many of them heirloom, that vary in size from the small lady peas to very large ones, as may be seen in the state and municipal farmers' markets. The color of the eye may be black, brown, red, pink or green. All the peas are green when freshly shelled and brown or buff when dried. A popular 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,[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]


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[edit]

New Year's Day in Alabama: black-eyed peas, ham hock, and pepper sauce

In the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the new year.

There are several legends as to the origin of this custom.

In the Southern United States,[4] 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.[5] Cornbread also often accompanies this meal. The cornbread represents gold.

Two popular explanations for the South’s association with peas and good luck dates back to the Civil War. The first is associated with Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union Army's March to the Sea, during which they pillaged the food supplies of the Confederates. Stories say peas and salted pork were said to be left untouched because of the belief that they were animal food and not fit for human consumption. Southerners considered themselves lucky to be left with some supplies to help them survive the winter, and black-eyed peas evolved into a representation of good luck. In other traditions, it was a symbol of emancipation for African-Americans who had previously been enslaved before the civil war who became free officially on New Years Day.[6][7]

Other traditions point to Sephardic and Ashkenazi southerners - who were prominent slaveholders in Southern cities and plantations.[8] 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" (Horayot 12A). 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.[citation needed]

Culinary uses worldwide[edit]

Several cups of chè đậu trắng, a Vietnamese dessert made with black-eyed peas
Lobia curry, a black-eyed peas dish from India.
Mature black-eyed peas
cooked, no salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 484 kJ (116 kcal)
20.76 g
Sugars 3.3 g
Dietary fiber 6.5 g
0.53 g
7.73 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.202 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.055 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.495 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.411 mg
Vitamin B6
0.1 mg
Folate (B9)
208 μg
Vitamin E
0.28 mg
Vitamin K
1.7 μg
24 mg
2.51 mg
53 mg
0.475 mg
156 mg
278 mg
4 mg
1.29 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

"Hoppin' John", made of black-eyed peas, rice, and pork, is a traditional dish of Southern United States.

Texas caviar, another traditional dish in the American South, is made from black-eyed peas marinated in vinaigrette-style dressing and chopped garlic, and served cold.[9]

In Portugal, black-eyed peas are served with boiled cod and potatoes, with tuna, and in salads.

In Egypt, black-eyed peas are called lobia. Cooked with onions, garlic, meat, and tomato juice, and served with Egyptian rice with some pastina called shaerya mixed in, it makes the most famous rice dish in Egypt.

In Vietnam, black-eyed peas are used in a sweet dessert called chè đậu trắng (black-eyed peas and sticky rice with coconut milk).

In Greece, Turkey (börülce salatası), and Cyprus, black-eyed peas are eaten with vegetables, oil, salt, and lemon.[10] 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 North India, black-eyed peas are called lobia or rongi and cooked like daal, served with boiled rice.[11] In Maharashtra they are called chawli (pronounced chau-lee) and made into a curry called chawli amti[12] or chawli usal. In Karnataka they are called alsande kalu and used in the preparation of huli, a popular type of curry.[13] In Tamil Nadu they are called karamani and used in various recipes, including being boiled and made into a salad-like sundal (often during the Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri festivals).[14]

They are called lobia in Pakistan.

In West Africa and the Caribbean, a traditional dish called akara is made of mashed black-eyed peas to which is added salt, onions and/or peppers. The mixture is then fried.[15]

In Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, South America, it is one of the most popular type of beans cooked with rice, the main one being red kidney beans, also referred to as red beans. It is also cooked as a snack or appetizer on its own. On New Year's Eve (referred to as Old Year's Night in Guyana and Suriname), 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.

Cultural references[edit]

The Black Eyed Peas is the name of an American hip-hop band.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tropical Forages: an interactive selection tool. Vigna ungiculata Factsheet". CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems (CSIRO), Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F Queensland), Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). June 2005. 
  2. ^ Joseph E. Holloway. "African Crops and Slave Cuisine". California State University Northridge. Archived from the original on 2009-09-19. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Show Foods". Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  4. ^ "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
  5. ^ Greene, Teri (2009-01-02). "A Tasty Tradition: New Year's meal means good luck, good eats". Montgomery Advertiser. Montgomery, Alabama: 2, 3A. Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  6. ^ Garrett, Tammy. "Black-eyed peas are New Year's tradition for Southerners". Three Rivers Edition. Arkansas Online. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "Hoppin John". Awesome Cookery. Retrieved 7 January 2016.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  8. ^ Rosen, Robert. "The Jewish Confederates". The Free Air of Dixie. New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Joyce Sáenz Harris. "Try Some Texas Caviar". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  10. ^ "Swiss Chard and Black Eyed Beans". 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  11. ^ "Black Eye Bean Curry - Punjab Chawli, Rongi Masala - Recipes Shop, Buy Online". Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  12. ^ "Black eyed beans curry". Chakali. 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  13. ^ "Alasande Kalu Huli /Curried Black eyed Peas And Soppina Palya/Stirfried Amaranth". Taste of Mysore. 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  14. ^ "Karamani Sundal/Lobia Sundal Recipe - Ganesha Chaturthi Naivedyam Recipes". Indian Khana. 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2016-09-05. 
  15. ^ Houston, Lynn Marie (2005). Food Culture in the Caribbean. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-313-32764-3. 

External links[edit]