An Old World vine of the legume family. The beans are black or white and are contained in a papery, beaked pod.
The hyacinth bean grows as a vine, producing purple flowers and striking electric-purple colored seed pods. Lablab bean is a good choice for a quick screen on a trellis or fence. It grows fast, has beautiful, fragrant flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and it even produces edible leaves, flowers, pods, seeds and roots. Dry seeds are poisonous due to high concentrations of cyanogenic glucosides, and can only be eaten after prolonged boiling.
In Maharashtra, a special spicy curry, known as vaala che birde (वालाचे बीरडे), is often used during fasting festivals during Shravan month.
In the Telangana region of India, bean(చిక్కుడు) pods are cut into small pieces and cooked as spicy curry in Pongal festival season, along with bajra bread; it has been a very special delicacy for centuries.
In Huế, Vietnam, it is the main ingredient of the dish chè đậu ván.
In Kenya, it is known as njahi, and is popular among the Kikuyu group. It is thought to encourage lactation and has historically been the main dish for breastfeeding mothers. Beans are boiled and mashed with ripe and/or semiripe bananas, giving the dish a sweet taste.
It is also grown as forage and as an ornamental plant. In addition, this plant is also cited as a medicinal plant and a poisonous plant.