The green beans are inside the leathery pod.  Some cook the bean together with the pod and eat both.

Petai

Interesting texture on the woody knobs

Interesting texture on the woody knobs

Some pictures of petai, a green bean used in Malay home cooking. It grows in long pods on a very large tree of the Legume family, Parkia speciosa. The beans are very pungent. I’ve most often seen it cooked in sambal tumis ikan bilis, a fried chili paste with dried anchovies. It is also eaten raw dipped in some kind of spicy sambal. A lot of vegetables in the diet are eaten raw with chili sauces instead of salad dressing, a practice known as ulam. I can eat petai on occassion, but mostly I just like the cool texture on the woody knobs that bear the pods (picture 2). Petai is believed to have a beneficial effect on the kidneys and urinary tract. I imagine this is due to the dark brown foul-smelling urine you will pass the day after a petai meal.

The green beans are inside the leathery pod.  Some cook the bean together with the pod and eat both.

The green beans are inside the leathery pod. Some cook the bean together with the pod and eat both.

Petai is semi-wild; it is often encouraged to grow on the outskirts of kampungs. It is also gathered directly from the forest. In The Economic Valuation of Parkia speciosa in Peninsular Malaysia, Woo Weng Chuen estimates the domestic market at between RM8-24 million per year. Due to the whole smelly brown urine thing, though, I don’t think Petai has much future as an export crop, aside from supply to southeast asian communities in diaspora.