Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kadyos (Cajanus Cajan)

Two summers ago, a family in Bukidnon served me a kadyos dish so fresh and unforgettable that I was motivated to swipe seeds when they toured me around their farm. Remember, it's not stealing! It's facilitating plant reproduction.

Anyhow, the savory/sour soup had langka (jackfruit), sampaloc (tamarind) leaves, a strange souring fruit, and of course the little kadyos beans, all swimming in a dark purple broth. The non-vegetarian portion had chicken in it. I understand this sort of dish is popular in Negros. Unfortunately, it has yet to reach any kind of mainstream status in Metro Manila.

But back to the seeds: I found them stashed away last year, and planted them in our new (then extremely dry) garden. One lucky seedling made it through the heat, and proceeded to grow way taller than me. It then sprung a bevy of pretty yellow flowers, which then attracted all sorts of bees and butterflies.

Of course, its flowers gave way to pods that began at green then turned purply at the edges. The seeds go from light green to reddish to dark purple to a nice black (when dried). I think people eat them at all stages, but I prefer them when they get darker, and dried.

Some background then. Kadyos, or pigeon pea, scholars have decided, was probably born in Asia, and made its way to Africa and the Americas. Today, it is grown in most tropical (and sub-tropical) parts of the world. It travels well and grows in otherwise damning conditions. Globally, the largest producer is legume-crazy India, where they are made into the delicious toor dal. It is also used as a food crop all over, and is high in protein and certain amino acids. Among other medical uses, a tea made from its leaves can relieve cough, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

The plant is a nitrogen fixer, which makes it ideal for barren land, like mine. In some countries, woody parts are used as thatching. You also might want to keep in mind that flogging someone with kadyos stems is, in Haiti, the most effective (and cheap, I guess) way of ending an evil dead spirit possession. And probably equally interesting is that the plant's leaves are used to host a sort of insect that produces violin varnish!

This plant is easy as sin to grow, although ours needed support to keep from falling over. I suppose under better soil conditions, this would be completely unnecessary.

1 comment:

Edwin Icogo said...

How long to bear pods?