Pigeon peas

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Pigeon peas are de-husked to become lentils or split peas. Pigeon peas originated in Africa in prehistory and are used in cooking throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Near East through to India.

Pigeon peas are coloured from red to white, brown, mottled or black. Green pigeon peas when still in their pods are used as a vegetable.

So far as we know, the following are types of pigeon pea:


Pigeon peas last for a good length of time, but do toughen with age, so buy in smallish quantities. If you buy in bulk, check for dirt and insects as these are not uncommon and should be anticipated. Store somewhere dark and cool, and free from potential insect contamination.

Further reading

  • Christian, G. (2005) Real Flavours: the handbook of gourmet & deli ingredients, Grub Street. ISBN 1904943209.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.