Lablab bean

Lablab bean (Lablab purpureus)


The lablab bean originated in India and grows in the wild in Bengal and Assam. Excavations in the Harappan region revealed consumption of the lablab bean as food as far back as 3200–2000 BC (Mehra, 2002). By the time Charaka (c. 700 BC) wrote his Ayurvedic treatise, the word shimbi in Sanskrit was used for pods, and most of the pulses were classified as shimbidhanya (grain produced in pods). The Sanskrit names for lablab bean are nishpava, shimbi, rajshimbi, and vallaka. In the Jain literature (c. 200 BC–300 AD), we find names such as nipphava and valla, both of which originated from the Sanskrit words. The current names for lablab bean in some of the Indian languages have originated  from  the  Sanskrit  names;  for  example, sem in Hindi from shimbi,  pavate in Marathi from nishpava,  and
valpapdi in Gujarati from vallaka. The origin of the Tamil word mochai and avare of Malayalam and Kannada could not be traced.

Kautilya (321–296 BC) mentions the sowing time to be the middle of the rainy season (Shamasastry, 1961). The botanist William Roxburgh (1759–1815), who worked at Chennai and Kolkata, described 13 different kinds of lablab bean (Watt, 1889). In the Chennai area, lablab bean was grown as a 6- month crop (June–July/February–March) and was drilled with other pulses. Seed color was described as white, red, or black (Watt, 1889). In Thane in Maharashtra, the lablab bean, like black gram, was sown in standing rice in small holes made between the rice plants, two seeds in a hole. The green pods were consumed as vegetable and the stalks as fodder (Watt, 1889). Nowadays, the dry seed is soaked, sprouted, dehulled, and then cooked as an alternative to dhal in Western India.

The Bhavaprakash (16th century) considers it to be a semen reducer (Chunekar and Pandey, 1998). In Assam, the salted juice of the lablab plant is used for treating ear and throat infections (Watt, 1889).