Family:   Fabaceae

Synonyms: Lathyrus asiaticus

Common Name: Chickling Pea

Local Name: Khesari (खेसरी), Sudu

Khesari is a much-branched, annual herbaceous vine growing from a long but thin, well-developed taproot. It is found growing upto an altitude of 800 to 1000 m in Western Himalaya. Khesari is mostly present as a weed of cultivated crops like wheat field, where its tendril can easily climb around support provided by wheat plant. Occasionally khesari can also be seen growing as an escape plant in waste places near habitations.  

Khesari growing wild along the pathway

Young pods of khesari are eaten both raw and cooked. Raw these are eaten as pea. Tender shoot terminals along with leaves and young pods are cooked as vegetable by mixing with other greens of the winter season. Dried seeds are mostly preferred as ‘daal’ (Pulse) after boiling and these are also preserved for later use. Local people of this region usually mix dried seeds of khesari with other pulses for making ‘daal’. Dried seeds are also ground into flour and mixed with wheat flour for their rich protein content.

The seed contains a toxic amino-acid known as ODAP which, in large quantities, can cause a very serious disease of the nervous system known as ‘lathyrism’ 1. However, soaking and through cooking vanish toxicity of seeds.

Plant is harvested from wild habitat for local use of food, fodder and medicine. khesari seeds are rich source of protein, therefore it is also grown as minor crop along with some major crops in many parts of Western Himalaya. Being a member of family Fabaceae; it is able to fix atmospheric nitrogen, so people also cultivated this plant along with other crops specially wheat as a green manure for increasing soil fertility.

Khesari Plant:

Plant is glabrous, much branched herbs upto 30 – 50cm tall, with winged stems.

Leaflets are 2, linear- lanceolate or oblong. Rachis ending in a long 3- branched tendril.

Flowers are solitary, blue- purple.

Pods glabrous, 2.5- 3.5 cm long, upper margins 2- winged.

A plant of khesari

Edible plant parts like leaves and tender shoot terminals are best harvested in spring while seeds pods and seeds are available from summer to rainy season of the year.

Edible Uses:

Tender shoot terminals, young leaves, seed pods and seeds of Khesari are edible and cooked as vegetable or ‘daal’. Plant may be toxic in large quantities so better to be mixed with other greens for making vegetable or with other pulses for making ‘daal’. Plant parts should be thoroughly washed and cooked before use. Seeds are ground into powder and then mixed with wheat flour for its rich protein content.

Harvesting Khesari

 Saag:

 Ingredients:

Tender shoot tips of khesari and other wild potherbs, 1 kg; mustard oil, 2 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed ¼ table spoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste.

Method:

Boil chopped leaves they become soft.  Then mesh manually or in a mixer. Then sauté with hot mustard oil and the spices listed before in sequence. This sauted saag is then ready and can be served as such or can be mixed with 2 or 3 chopped onion and cooked for another 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Vegetable:

Leaves, young shoots and pods are cooked with potato.

Ingredients:

Chopped leave, young shoots and pods, 1/2 kg; chopped medium sized potatoes, 4-5; mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon;  turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chillies, 2-3; chopped medium sized onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon, chopped tomato, 2-3;  and salt, according to taste.

Method:

Put oil in a pan and sauté chopped sudu tender shoot as well as pods with potatoes and spices listed above in sequence. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes and serve with chapattis.

Daal:

Ingredients:

Dried seeds of khesari and other pulses, 1 kg; mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon;  turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped medium sized onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon, chopped tomato, 2-3;  and salt, according to taste.

Method:

Boil khesari seeds and other pulses till they are soft. Sauté boil daal in hot mustard oil along with spices listed above. Garnish it with garam masala and chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice.

Nutritional value:

khesari seeds are particularly rich in protein (26-33%) and starch (40-55%) with a relatively low fibre content (crude fibre 6%). The amino acid profile is rich in lysine but, like other legume seeds, grass pea seeds are particularly poor in methionine and cystine 2.

Medicinal

The oil from the seeds is a powerful and dangerous cathartic 3,4.

Other Uses:

Plant is used as fodder along with other weeds in late winters. It fixes atmospheric nitrogen and enriches soil with this fertilizer. So. grown along with major crop; where it easily get support for growth and development from surrounding plant. 

In is often grown as a relay crop with rice: it is broadcast into a standing rice crop about 2 weeks before the rice harvest and left to grow on the residual moisture 4.

References:

1.Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2020-03-24. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Lathyrus+sativus>

2. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/285.

3. Chopra, R.N., Nayar, S.L. & Chopra, I.C (1956). Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants. CSIR, New Delhi.  

4,http://www.prota.org

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