The winged bean is a healthy weaning food due to its highly nutritive value.
The Illustration depicts the various parts of the winged bean i.e. tubers, seeds, pods, leaves and flowers. It is claimed that the seeds contain 40% proteins and the roots about 20% proteins, which is supposed to be 10 times more than in potatoes or yams. It also has a high water content of 14 to 25 gms for every 100 gms.
Winged beans are also rich in carbohydrates and vitamin "A". The creeper can grow on dry land, requiring little water and space. All parts of the plant i.e. seeds, flowers, leaves, pods and tuber-like-roots are edible.
The seed before sowing is soaked for a day in hot water. After sowing, it takes 8 to 10 days to sprout. After 8 to 10 weeks, the creeper will bear flowers, violet in colour. Within 4 weeks, tender beans will grow. Pod-bearing will last for 2 to 3 months. One creeper will bear 4 to 5 kilos of beans. By the time florescence stops, the creeper has a well-developed root system. From it, the plant will sprout again in the next season.
Winged bean (pod) can be cooked like any other vegetable. Its tender leaves make good sauce and curry. Seeds of young beans taste like peas, can be eaten raw or cooked. Dried seeds can be roasted like peanuts. The tuber-like-roots are eaten after boiling or frying.
The plant is a good fodder for cattle.
Prof: B.D. Tilak, Indian Institute of Education, 128/2 Karve Road Kothrud, Pune- 411 029, Maharashtra