How to Cook Kunde/Cow peas Leaves

Cow peas or black eyed peas are commonly referred to as Kunde in Swahili. Their green leaves are cooked like other vegetables except that a number of people prefer boiling them first.

Boiling makes the leaves tender and easily digestible. There are a number of ways of cooking them. For instance:

1. Once boiled, oil is added to a sauce pan to saute onions for about three minutes. The drained cow peas leaves are added and cooked for a few minutes to absorb the oil and onion and to get more flavor.

An advantage of this simple way of cooking is that the leaves retain their natural flavor since there aren't many vegetables added.

2. Another way of cooking them is adding more vegetables to make it more nutritious. Beef can also be added.

3. In some Kenyan communities, the leaves are boiled whole then after draining pounded/mashed instead of chopping them, especially if they are to be served to many people.

I will share a recipe that includes other vegetables but excludes meat.

  • Chopped and boiled cow peas leaves- about 3 handfuls
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Garam masala
  • Crushed or finely chopped garlic
  • 2 pcs of okra
  • 1 bell pepper
  • Royco/ any other spices of your choice
  • Cooling oil & salt

  1. Saute onion and garlic in oil for about three minutes.
  2. Add the bell pepper and cook for a minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and okra. Add also garam masala and any other spices of your choice (e.g tumeric, cumin, dhana jeera).
  4. After two minutes, add the boiled cow peas leaves and stir to mix all the ingredients. Cook for five minutes. In case you want to add royco, add to the sauce pan and simmer for five minutes.
  5. Taste for salt then serve.

The kunde/cow peas leaves are great served with chapati or ugali. They have a distinct taste that easily diferentiates them from other green leafy vegetables like kales/collards and spinach.

If you intend to cook together with beef, it is best to cook the beef in oil with onions and garlic before adding the other vegetables. This gives it more time to cook and adds flavor.