Anyone who has eaten in an Ilonggo household is familiar with KBL, a stew of kadyos, baboy, and langka. The dish is known for its flavorful soup, made with a combo of batwan and pork fat. But for some, the star of the dish is the kadyos, or pigeon peas. Our Senior Editor, who grew up in Iloilo, shared with us her love for the legume—and even brought back a pack after a trip back to the province.
Kadyos (Cajanus cajan) are small green, dark purple, or black peas (or fruit pods). They’re endemic in Africa and South America, but also thrive in some Asian countries. South Asia, in particular, consumes it at a large scale. It’s considered a staple crop in India, where it’s used in many local dishes.
In the Philippines, kadyos is rarely found in Metro Manila and Mindanao. Some of us in the team hadn’t even heard about it. They’re grown domestically in North Luzon and some parts of the Visayas. And they’re typically planted in December to January, then harvested in the late summer. At this time, you’ll find them in most wet markets, selling at around PHP15-20 per pack (around 500g). During off-season, though, only a handful of sellers carry them; and a pack can go up to PHP50.
Once cooked, kadyos becomes soft yet slightly gritty. It has a thin skin that you can peel off with your tongue. (Our Senior Editor admits that she used to enjoy doing this; it made eating KBL more enjoyable.) And the bean itself has a nutty, grain-like flavor. As an ingredient, it gives dishes—like KBL (or KMU, a similar stew that uses manok and ubad)—a balanced earthiness. It’s also a great source of protein, making it an alternative as a vegetarian/vegan fare.