Meet Black eyed pea, also called southern pea, cowpea, crowder pea and in the Indian context ‘lobia’ in Hindi, ‘chawli’ in Marathi and ‘bobbarlu’ in Telugu.
The black-eyed pea originated in Africa and was introduced during the 18th century in the southern half of United States. It grows up to 50 to 100 cm in length. Since then, it has come to be a standard feature in cooking and is commercially cultivated in India and China as a high protein crop.
Chawli is an oval shaped white bean, which you can easily identify through a black spot found at the hilum of the seed. It looks more like bean, but is smaller in size.
Culinary wise, you can enjoy it with rice (classically called lobia-chawal in Punjabi households) though it is also served with soups and side dishes. Chawli is served as animal fodder as well in western countries.
Lobia or chawli is eaten less by Indian families as compared to the kidney beans (rajma). And, don’t see it as a disadvantage, as the nutritional facts of chawli would surprise you all. Let’s have a look.
Nutritional breakdown of Chawli (or Cowpeas)
Cowpeas have all possible vitamins you can think of: Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, and C. Besides these, there are sufficient minerals in ample amounts such as folic acid, iron, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus.
Cowpeas also have high amount of proteins and minerals. A cowpea seed has about 25% protein which is why it helps in building body immunity and prevents breakdown of skin collagen.
Types of Chawli (or Cowpeas)
Chawli comes in a wide variety. All are edible and distinctive looking.
Cream Cowpea: This can be easily identified by the deficiency of eye in it.
Black Eye and Purple Eye: This has moderate taste and vibrant coloured shelled peas. It has a white hilum which is covered by pink, black or red colours.
Clay Cowpea: These dark brown coloured seeds are kidney shaped.
Crowder Cowpea: As goes the name, these round or globular seeds are placed in a crowded fashion in the pod.
Health Benefits of Chawli (or Cowpeas)
Rich in Anti-oxidants
The black eye in Chawli makes it a rich source of antioxidants. This further helps in eliminating harmful toxins and free radicals thereby reducing the risk of cancer.
Low in Cholesterol and Fats
Black eyed peas help in lowering the cholesterol levels in your body. The presence of flavonoids, magnesium and potassium gives your heart the health support it needs. Since cowpeas have high quantities of soluble dietary fiber as well as protein, you can expect reduced amount of bad cholesterol in your blood plasma. Cowpeas also have steroid compounds known as phytosterols that help keep standard cholesterol levels in your body.
Maintains Blood Pressure
Because of high potassium and low sodium content, eating cowpeas proves to be beneficial for high blood pressure patients as it helps keep it to optimum level.
Good for Cardiovascular system
Cowpeas have flavonoids that help in combating cardiovascular issues. When you include cowpeas in your ordinary diet, you cut down risk of cardiovascular ailments.
Fights Free Radicals
The creamy coloured cowpeas have high amounts of antioxidants that help remove harmful free radicals. This curbs the growth of cancerous cells in your body.
As compared to other lentils and legumes, cowpeas are low in glycemic index which makes them keep the blood sugar levels stable.
Good for digestion
The presence of high fibre and protein content in cowpeas facilitate proper digestion of food. High levels of fibre help calm down bowel related problems and bring relief to stomach discomfort.
Chawli has high levels of iron, which helps prevent anaemia in women suffering from iron deficiency.
Good for skin, hair, muscles
Owing to high levels of protein, cowpeas are good for overall nourishment as they promote skin repair and help in formation of new skin cells. Further due to vitamin A and C, cowpeas protect your skin cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Helps in Weight loss
Because of negligible calories and fat, cowpeas are the best food for a weight loss plan. Since they have high levels of dietary fiber, they keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time.
Good for pregnant women
Cowpeas are a good source of folate. This is of prime importance to women who wish to conceive or are already few months pregnant. Folates prevent congenital defects occurring in the uterus.
Beneficial for Urinary Bladder
Cowpeas are believed to solve urinary problems when consumed on a regular basis.
How to Buy Chawli
Smooth skinned and creamy white black eyed peas are the best. While buying it, see to it that they are pebble-free.
Since cowpeas are sold dried, you can store them for up to one year.
Cooking Tips of Chawli
It is not essential or a mandatory rule to soak cowpeas. But if you leave them soaked in hot water for a brief period of time (as against letting them stay in cold water overnight), it helps cut down on the cooking time dramatically.
Recipe for Chawli Masala
Start including these nutritious black eye peas in your diet and watch it become your health favourite!