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The 5 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

Have you ever wondered about the wonders of pigeon peas?

Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but they’re also easy to cook.

To prepare them, simply soak them in water overnight and then drain and simmer them in boiling water until they become tender.

They can then be added to vegetable or meat dishes to give them a boost of flavor.

But if you’re out of pigeon peas, never fear.

There are a variety of substitutions that can still provide that delicious flavor.

In this article, we’ll discuss the five best substitutes for pigeon peas.

What are Pigeon Peas?

Pigeon peas, also known as ‘Toor Dal’ or ‘arhar dal’ in India, are small round beans that have a yellow-greenish hue.

They are high in plant protein and essential nutrients, which demonstrates their nutritional benefits for health.

Their taste is lightly nutty and earthy, with a slightly starchy texture when cooked al dente slightly.

When boiled until soft, the texture takes on a creamy consistency.

Pigeon peas can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups to curries to salads to grain bowls – the list goes on.

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One of the most popular Indian recipes using pigeon peas is ‘dal makhani,’ a deliciously creamy dish that is easy to make and always hits the spot.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

If you are looking for a suitable substitute for pigeon peas, there are five excellent options that you should consider.

1 – Red Lentils

Red lentils are tiny and round legumes that may not stand out much, but they certainly should.

This type of lentil is usually bright orange in color and is known for being a powerhouse of nutrition – red lentils are an excellent source of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and high-quality proteins.

In terms of taste and texture, an uncooked red lentil has a slightly sweet flavor that can be altered depending on the dish preparation.

Upon cooking, these pulses turn soft and mushy enough to use as replacements for pigeon peas in dishes like rice & peas or traditional Caribbean stews.

They make a perfect accompaniment to any Jamaican meal without sacrificing any of the flavors that pigeon peas normally provide.

2 – Chickpeas

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a nutty, crunchy legume.

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These small beans are an excellent source of vegetarian protein and make for a nutritious snack or meal.

Because of their creamy texture and mild flavor, they can be used in a variety of dishes.

Chickpeas contain a decent amount of dietary fiber along with essential vitamins and minerals like folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, which makes them highly beneficial for health.

They are appreciated globally for their versatility, as they can be mashed into hummus, served in salads, or stirred into soups to add texture and flavor.

For those looking to substitute pigeon peas, chickpeas provide a wonderful alternative due to their similarly nutty taste.

3 – Black Beans

Black beans are a commonly consumed and incredibly versatile legume.

Originating from Central and South America, these delicious beans can be purchased in dried form, canned, or even pre-flavored with Latin-inspired spices like cumin and chili powder.

With its thick, velvety texture and mild but slightly nutty flavor, it’s an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber.

Not only that – black beans are surprisingly low on the glycemic index, making them a great choice for diabetics.

Substitute black beans for traditional pigeon peas to add a more intense flavor to your favorite Caribbean dishes, such as rice and peas or Caribbean stew.

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It definitely adds something special to the dish.

4 – White Beans

White beans, also known as navy beans, have long been a staple of the cuisine.

Popularly available canned or dried, these small white pulses have a mild flavor and soft texture that makes them incredibly versatile.

When cooked correctly, the exterior skin should remain intact while the inside should dissolve into something creamily soft and moist.

White beans are delicious in soups and stews or simply doused with olive oil and served as an accompaniment to fish.

Those looking for a great substitution for traditional pigeon peas should look no further than white beans – they can be cooked with seasonings like garlic and oregano to give them more depth of flavor, as well as salt cod or chorizo for additional protein.

5 – Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are an incredibly versatile, highly nutritious type of bean.

Whether they’re eaten cooked or raw, they offer a wide range of vitamins and minerals which make them a great addition to almost any meal.

Kidney beans are rich in fiber and protein, as well as containing significant amounts of potassium, folate, and iron.

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They have a dense and soft texture that makes them perfect for use in any dish, such as soups, curries, and salads; their mild nutty flavor complements many ingredients making them ideal for creating flavorful meals.

If you can’t find pigeon peas for your favorite recipe but have kidney beans on hand, don’t worry -they make an ideal substitute.

The cooking time may be slightly longer due to their larger size, but the resulting taste is just as delicious.


In conclusion, there are a variety of options that can be used as substitutes for pigeon peas.

From chickpeas to black beans, white beans, and kidney beans, each offers its own unique flavor and texture that can turn your favorite dishes into something truly special.

The key is to find out which type suits your particular recipe the best – some may require longer cooking times or different flavor profiles, so experiment and find out which one works for you.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Red Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Black Beans
  • White Beans
  • Kidney Beans


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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