One of the netters wrote "why are pesalu called greengram and why are minumulu called blackgram? I don't know the reason". It is simple. Pesalu are green in color and minumulu are black in color. Let me provide some phytomorphological features of these seeds, called legumes (pulses).

The pappulu (legumes) belong to the dicot family called "Leguminosae", the second largest family among angiosperms. The species distribution of the members of Leguminosae is highest in the tropics and subtropics. Several of these legumes are endemic to the Indian sub-continent. Not all legumes are edible (pulses) but all edible pulses are legumes. Not to one's surprise, there are several legumes which are toxic and of pharmacological interest.

To a botanist, this legume family of plants, Leguminosae, is still divided into 3 subfamilies (Papilionaceae, Caesalpineae, and Mimosae). India has a wealth of these legumes which include forest trees (flame of the forest, tamarind, tumma), edible plants (pesalu, minumulu, kandulu, verusanaga), medicinal plants (shikay), and noxious weeds (tangedu, touch-me-not etc.).

The inflorescence and flowers of these legumes are beautiful. The flame of the forest is a gorgious tree especially its flowers are pretty. The urban development authorities in Andhra are trying to plant this tree all along the road sides. Semi-arid zones (Nalgonda, Miryalaguda and some parts around Hyderabad) have acres and acres of one of the most widespread legumes - tumma, which is a druought-enduring and drought-resistant plant. This plant dominates that region. One can see these shrubs all along the highways and railway tracks.

Another ornamental legume, Australian Acacia has been introduced into India by the Indian Forest Service. What the India Forest Service (AP Forest Service), ICAR, and IARI should have done long time ago is to save these forest legume trees - keeping a seed bank. It is too late now. Most of the interesting forest legume trees are disappearing.

Moduga, a flower that is offered to Lord SIVA during Sivaratri, is a legume and is a rare plant now in the eastern ghats of India (Andhra Pradesh forest wealth). Vistaraku is a legume too and is commonly called aDDa'ku. That vistaraku tree is also disappearing. Our culture started with vistara'kulu my friend.

The plants belonging to the Leguminosae family are called "legumes", "leguminous plants", "pulses" and the seeds are called "legumes" and "pulses". These words are used interchangeably either for the whole plant or for the fruit or for the seed or for the split seed. As the legumes are dicots, the seed has two halves (2 cotyledons) surrounded by a seed coat. In case of pesalu this seed coat is green, hence, is called "green gram". In case of minumulu this seed coat is black, hence, is called "black gram". These seeds are arranged linearly in a fruit called the "pod". The pod of pesalu is green in color and the pod of minumulu is black and hairy. If you look at a fruit of one leguminous plant, all other legumiunous fruit look the same - they are all the pods.

The farmers raise these legumes, harvest the pods (fruits), dry them, remove the seeds from the pods, and process them when warranted. The fine minappappu and pesarapappu and kandipappu one buys in the Patel Bros. India Grocery store is the split seeds of legumes with out the seed cover. One can also buy the whole seed in the market such as pesalu and minumulu etc.. The seed coats of certain legumes contain toxic substances. Legumes also contain blood-coagulating substances, which are toxic in nature. The fruit coverings of certain legumes are toxic. The plants evolved those toxic substances to protect themselves from predators - defence strategy. Once the split pappu is prepared, it is further processed. In the good old days wood ash (poyya buggi) was used as a coating over the minappappu and pesarapappu as an insect repellent.

Years ago the merchants used toxic insecticide dust mixed with the pappulu sold in the market. Some times other chemicals are used to keep these pappulu away from the insect pests. It is unfortunate that things like this happen in India. Most of these pappulu bought in the Indian store have to be washed well (at least 3-4-5 times).

Adulteration of pappulu with look-a-like pebbles, glass beads, silica, saw dust, and other inert material is a commonly followed ritual (accepted in the Indian community now a days in India) is serious problem. Occassionally we also come across batches of adulterated minappappu or sanagapappu bought in the Indian Grocery Store. Those are the jaw breakers.

To anybody's surprise but not to a botanist, the legumes (plants belonging to Leguminosae) are one of the few among flowering plants (angiosperms) which are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen (that means even the cultivated edible legumes like beans do not need extensive application of nitrogen fertilizers) with the help of a symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacterium in the root nodules.

People from rural Andhra should remember and recollect the fact that between crops our grandfathers (before the use of nitrogen fertilizers like urea) used to grow leguminous weeds like tamTa'm. These leguminous weeds fix enough atmospheric nitrogen in the soils for the forthcoming crop. Those days are gone and these are the days of ammonia (ammoniamma as they call in rural Andhra) fertilizers. Pappulu are the best (alternative) source of proteins especially for vegetarians.

Among non-meat eating communities, it is traditional to prepare ga'relu with minappappu during Kanumu (Pongal days) and during pitruka'rya'lu and viva'ha'lu. One should also recapitulate the fact that one should drink gallons of water after eating half a dozen minapaga'relu.

Idli made with minappappu and dibbaroTTe are the best proteinaceous diets and people like Kodi Rammoorthy used to eat iDli and dibbaroTTe frequently. Vegetarian body builders belonging to Sri Hanuman Brahmacharula Vyayamasala are instructed to eat more minapa iDli and minapa dibbaroTTe. KuDumulu made from minappappu is a delicacy among several communities. In Miryalaguda I ate iDlis in a road-side stall served with vEruSanaga paccaDi. The groundnut chuTni tastes great. I tried to recreate it and failed miserably.

Pesarattu is Andhra Pradesh's State Dish. Mixture pesaraTTu, vulli pesaraTTu, allam pesaraTTu, pesaraTTupma, and double-roast pesara are a few variations. To prepare pesaraTTu one may choose either the whole grain pesalu or split pesarapappu without the seed coat. Either way, one will have a different taste. Molaka pesalu (sprouts) are commonly used breakfast diet. A handful of whole pesalu after soaking overnight are good to eat next morning without adding anything.

Vadapappu is my favorite dish which is made with soaked split pesarapappu. Vadapappu is of two types - one is sweet and the other one is hot, sour, and slightly salty. MinapaTTu is complementary to pesaraTTu and tastes great. It is a routine practice among several mothers to prepare aTlu with the leftover iDli pimDi. The batter left over for a couple of days will ferment and develops sour taste. If you like it the minapaTTu made with that pimDi is deliceous.

As a boy I used to join the gangs to illegally enter the pesara cEnu to pluck some pesaraka'yalu. Once I was caught and about to be spanked by the keeper. Some times the pesaracEnu is infested with another type of pesara called the pillipesara (a wild variety). The taste of pillipesara is horrible and it stinks bad, probably due to the presence of some toxic natural products. After collecting the whole pesaracEnu, we used to burn it and eat the cooked pesaraka'yalu. That was an unforgettable incident because there where I learned how to smoke cigarettes.

Kandika'yalu (kamdulu) is another legume. During the kamdika'yala season, it was a tradition at my place to cook the whole kamdika'yalu in salt water and eat them. Kamdipappu is split pappu of kamdulu. Kamdipappu is a main dish in several families and among brahmins it is a must. Hence, the title "pappu tinna ba'paDu" came into existence. That kamdipappu is called toordal in the Indian store here. I see several varieties of it. One is oily toordal (kamdipappu). I don't know about you but for me that is one of the worst varieties of kamdipappu to taste.

Tomato kamdipappu and ma'miDika'ya kamdipappu are the most delicious dishes. For some people kamdipappu and neyyi (ghee or clarified butter) should be present on the plate. Watch out your blood pipes. Remove that neyyi part other wise you will invite unwanted problems. Pesarapappu is again complementary to kamdipappu.

PesarakaTTu is one of the most popular dishes made with pesarapappu. Again one can prepare tomato pesarapappu, ma'miDika'ya pesarapappu, gOmgoora pesarapappu, spinach (baccalikoora) pesarapappu, tOTakoora pesarapappu, etc..

Vulavalu (horse gram) is not only for the horses but humans eat it too. Vulavalu are supposed to have the highest protein content. Vulava ca'ru is a famous dish in Andhra.

Sangapappu (Sanagalu-derived) is the mother of most of the sweets (pimDivamTalu). The SanagapimDi (canadal) is the building material for boomdi, laDDu, etc.. Pa'ThOli is a dish that is made with Sanagapappu also. I have never eaten it in years.

Oh! How can I forget pappupulusu that is so common among Andhra families. As sa'ba'ru is for Tamilians, pappupulusu is for Andhrulu. Some one told me that the Tamils copied our pappupulusu and modified it into sa'mbar (It is like whose invention is Falafil - Is it by Jews or Arabs? Both claim that Falafil is their national dish.).

Vullipa'ya pulusu and gOmgoora paccaDi are essential for the girls on the dawn of Atlatadiya and they complete their VuTTikimda kooDu. dhappaLam prepared during peLLiLLu has the taste of its own and one can never recreate it during other times. dhappaLam again goes well with pappu.

paccaLLu are Andhra's specialities. I don't know who invented Sanagapappu paccaDi, kamdipappu vellulli paccaDi, and pesarapappu paccaDi but that person should be awarded the NOBEL PRIZE for COOKING (if at all one exists for that category). There was a roumor in my home town that the nearby coffee hotel owner used to prepare Sanagapappu caTni with the leftover pakODis the next day. What a way of recycling is that! Indians definitely have the know how for recycling.

Another interesting feature with legumes in Andhra culture is that the muttaiduvulu offer pacci Sanagalu (kommu Sanagalu or baTha'niilu) during Sra'vaNa Sukrava'ram nOmulu and varalakshmii vrata'lu. I don't know the reason behind but when my mom used to bring them home, I used to fry them and eat them after mixing with a bit of red pepper powder and salt. piDatakimdi pappu sold on Waltair beaches was a famous snack. Roasterd baTha'niilu are the snacks to kill time in the back benches of a boring chemistry class during my college days.

One of the bad guys sitting next to me used shoot the girls with those baTha'niilu and one day he lost the aim and one of those went and hit the teacher. Can you imagine how did that poor teacher react?

vEruSangalu are Gandhita'ta's favorite snack. One may eat either fried vEruSanagapappu or cooked Sanagaka'yalu. In my native town vEruSanaga vumDalu made with Anakapalli bellam are famous. One can also prepare vEruSanaga Kajjam with Sugar. Often times you may come across a guy in the cinema theater who eats a kilogram of vEruSanaga pikkalu through out the movie, and leaves a pile of husk on the floor. He is very comfortable with the cinema hall and feels it home. I don't know whether he does the same at home or not.

Legumes! Pappulu! Pappu! Even the last names (Sirnames) among several Andhra communities are derived or borrowed from famous legumes. e.g. Pappu (pappu va'ru)
muddapappu (muddapappu va'ru)
kamdi (kamdi va'ru)
kamdikuppa (kamdikuppa va'ru)
cikkuDuka'yala (cikkuDuka'yala va'ru)

How can we live with out legumes (pappulu) as they have become an integrated part and inherant asset of several of our families.

    Some of the Andhra Legumes (pulses - pappulu - pappu):

1) pesalu: This is "green gram". Botanical Name: Phaseolus radiatus Family: Leguminosae (Pea Family) Sanskrit: Masha Telugu: Pacca Pesalu; pesara

2) minumulu : This is "black gram" Botanical Name: Phaseolus minimum Family: Leguminosae (Pea family) Sanskrit: Mudga Telugu: minava, minapa Minappappu: split black gram

3) kandulu - kandi : This is "red gram". Botanical Name: Cajanus indicus Family: Leguminosae Sanskrit: Adhaki Hindi: Arhar Tamil: Thovary Malayalam: Thuvava Telugu: Kamdulu, tuvari English: Dal or Cadjan Pea Kamdipappu: split red gram

4) Sanagalu: This is Chick Pea - Bengal gram Botanical name: Cicer arietinum Family: Leguminosae Hindi: Chana Sanskrit: Chanaka Bengali: Chola Tamil: Kadalai Telugu: Sanagalu; caNakamu, harimamdhajamu

5) vEruSanaga: Ground Nut, Earth Nut, Pignut, Manila Gram, Peanut Botanical Name: Arachis hypogea Family: Leguminosae Sanskrit: Buchanaka Hindi: Mungphali Bengali: Chinar Badam Malayalam: Nelakadala Tamil: Nila kadalai; verkadalai Telugu: vEruSanaga; Salagalu; Sanaga Pikkalu, Buddalu

6) baThaniilu: Peas Botanical name: Pisum sativum Family: Leguminosae Sanskrit: Satila Hindi: Mattar Marathi: Vatana Malayam & Tamil: Pattani Telugu: paTanlu; baTha'niilu

7) vulavalu: Horse gram Botanical Name: Dolichos biflorus Sanskrit: Kulattha Hindi: Kulthi Tamil: Kollu Malayalam: Muthiva Telugu: vulava

8) Sikaya: Soap Acacia Botanical Name: Acacia concinna Family: Leguminosae Sanskrit: Saptala Bengali: Ban-ritha Hindi: Ritha Tamil: Shikai Telugu: shiika'ya; siika'ya

9) Gurigimja: India Shot; Indian or Wild Liquorice Plant Botanical Name: Adenanthera pavonia Family: Leguminosae Sanskrit: Gunja Hindi: Ghungchi Tamil: Gundumani Malayalam: Kakani Kannada: Gunjii Telugu: gurugimja; guruvemdagimja

10) Tamtem: Weed Botanical Name: Cassia tora Family: Leguminosae Telugu: tamTemu; tamTiyamu; dadruGnamu; prapunna'Tamu Used as a nitrogen-fixer in the fields.

11) Nilimamdu: Indigo Botanical Name: Indigofera tinctoria Sanskrit: Nilika Telugu: niili; niili mamdu

12) Nallatumma: Gum Botanical Name: Acacia arabica Family: Leguminosae Hindi: kikar Bengali: Babla; Babul Sanskrit: Babbula Tamil: Karu velum Telugu: tumma; nalla tumma (tumma bamka; tumma jiguru ceTTu)

13) Chikkudu: Dolichos Botanical Name: Dolichos lablab Family: Leguminosae Sanskrit: Shimbi Hindi: Sem Tamil: Avarai Telugu: cikkuDu; cikkuDuka'ya Other varieties in cikkuDu are: yerra cikkuDu; tella cikkuDu; gOru cikkuDu; a'napa cikkuDu; Enugu cikkuDu; kODi cikkuDu; tomDa cikkuDu; ulakamdrulu; sona cikkuDu.

14) Chimta: Tamarind Botanical Name: Tamarindus indica Family: Leguminosae Sanskrit: Tintrilli Hindi: Imli; Amli Bengal: Ambli; Tentul Tamil: Amilam Telugu: cimta; cimtaka'ya; Amlika

That's all folks. More later.

Fifteen years of Botany training and another 10 years of rusting. Thanks guys. You have awakened my Botany faculty that was dormant for a while. My regards to my teachers at the Berhampur University, Andhra University, University of Toledo, and University of Minnesota.

I am indebted to Prof. Hari Hara Patnaik, Prof. Banchanidhi Misra, Prof. P. V. Bhairavamurty, Prof. V. P. Subrahmanyam, Prof. V. V. Sreeramamurty (of Delhi University who encouraged me in natural product chemistry), Prof. Woon H. Jyung, Prof. Eliot Tramer, Dr. Lloyd Jones, and Prof. Ralph T. Holman. This is the time to brush my memories.

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed above are not those of the CAS.

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