Pigeon Peas

One of the sure signs that Christmas is around the corner is the flowering of the pigeon peas. Also known as gandules, they are called gungo or pigeon peas here in Jamaica and are the essential ingredient in the rice and peas dish most families prepare on special occasions and, in particular, on Christmas Day.

Pigeon Pea plant
Pigeon pea plant

The pigeon pea originated in eastern India and was brought to east and west Africa, and eventually to the Americas by African slaves probably around the 17th century. It has been cultivated for at least 3,500 years.

Small in size and light green or white in color, the pigeon pea takes on a light brown hue when it’s been dried. Besides its use in rice and peas, pigeon peas can also be used in soups.

Pigeon pea plant
Pigeon pea plant

Pigeon peas are rich in protein, fiber and essential amino acids.

What fascinates me about the pigeon pea is the plant. The leaves look velvety and the ‘flowers’ are so colorful, they look as if they could be cut and put in a vase. These ‘blooms’ will last about a week then will be replaced by pods that are long and have individual pockets that hold each pea. Each pod can hold up to 8 peas, and grow in bunches of 5 to 7.

The green pigeon peas can be frozen for later use. When cooked, they have a slightly different taste from the dried ones.

Have you tried pigeon peas?

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

36 comments on “Pigeon Peas

  1. We do use pigeon peas in our food! They do add that flavor to it. Lovely flowers, never seen them before!
    Have a fantastic day Marcia πŸ™‚

  2. They look too pretty to eat. It’s amazing, learning about natural elements we use for food. Hard to get natural in industrial places where everything is manufactured.

  3. I have never heard of pigeon peas. What an interesting plant and I like how it has so many uses. Beautiful colors and do make for a festive decoration. Thanks for the info, Marcia!

  4. Never tried – or heard of – pigeon peas, but would like to. What an interesting glimpse into Christmas traditions in a warm climate country.

  5. High in protein and the flowers are pretty as well. I think I have grown these or a similar plant. Do they pop up all over the place?

  6. I only heard about pigeon peas from gourmet chefs and fine dining restaurants in France, Italy, and New York. But I’ve also read somewhere that it’s a superb treat that’s jam-packed with antioxidants and fiber.

  7. Yes, I just found that out myself when I did a little research for this post.
    It’s also very flavorful.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Kristine.

  8. It’s hard to describe the flavor but I think you’d like it. I prefer it to most other types of peas/beans.
    Was interesting to read about your Christmas traditions too.

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