What other names does beans go by?


Beans, also known as Phaseolus vulgaris, is a widely consumed legume that comes in various shapes, sizes, and colors. This versatile ingredient is a staple in many cuisines around the world and is used in a multitude of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and dips. While the term “beans” is commonly used to refer to this food item, it is interesting to explore the different names that beans can go by in various regions and cultures. Let’s delve into the diverse nomenclature of beans.

The Common Bean: A Brief Introduction

The common bean, or Phaseolus vulgaris, is a member of the legume family Fabaceae. It is native to the Americas and has been cultivated for thousands of years. Common beans are classified into various types based on their physical characteristics, including shape, size, and color. Some of the most popular types of common beans include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, and cannellini beans.

Regional Names for Beans

1. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans, known for their distinct shape and deep red color, are commonly referred to by different names in various parts of the world. Here are some notable examples:

  • Rajma: In India, kidney beans are widely known as rajma and are a key ingredient in many traditional dishes, particularly in North Indian cuisine.
  • Frijoles rojos: In Latin America, kidney beans are often called frijoles rojos, which translates to “red beans” in English.
  • Haricot rouge: In French cuisine, kidney beans are referred to as haricot rouge, where they are commonly used in dishes like cassoulet.

2. Pinto Beans

Pinto beans, with their mottled beige and brown appearance, are also known by different names in various regions:

  • Poroto frutilla: In Chile, pinto beans are commonly called poroto frutilla, which translates to “strawberry bean” in English, due to their resemblance to strawberries.
  • Feijão carioca: In Brazil, pinto beans are known as feijão carioca and are a fundamental ingredient in the traditional dish feijoada.
  • Frijol pinto: In Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, pinto beans are referred to as frijol pinto, which means “painted bean” in English.

3. Black Beans

Black beans, prized for their rich flavor and dark color, are recognized by different names across the globe:

  • Frijoles negros: In Latin American cuisine, black beans are commonly known as frijoles negros, and are a staple in dishes like arroz con frijoles negros.
  • Turtle beans: In the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, black beans are sometimes referred to as turtle beans due to their shiny, shell-like appearance.
  • Moyashi mame: In Japan, black beans are called moyashi mame and are often used in traditional New Year’s dishes like sekihan.

4. Navy Beans

Navy beans, small white beans often used in soups and stews, also have different names in certain regions:

  • Haricot: In the United Kingdom and France, navy beans are commonly known as haricot beans, and are widely used in various dishes, including the classic French cassoulet.
  • Great Northern beans: In the United States, navy beans are sometimes referred to as great northern beans, particularly in regions where they are locally cultivated.
  • Alubia: In Spain, navy beans are called alubia, and are a popular ingredient in many traditional Spanish dishes, such as fabada asturiana.

Other Names for Beans

Aside from the regional names mentioned above, beans can also be referred to by other names depending on the context:

1. Legumes

Beans belong to the legume family, which includes other plants that produce pods containing seeds. Legumes are a valuable source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, making them an important component of a balanced diet.

2. Pulses

The term “pulses” refers to the dried seeds of leguminous plants, including beans. Pulses are highly nutritious and are recognized for their role in promoting sustainable agriculture and food security.

3. Dal

In Indian cuisine, the term “dal” is used to refer to dried, split pulses, including various types of beans. Dal is a staple food in India and is prepared in a variety of ways, such as soups, stews, and side dishes.

FAQs about Bean Names

1. Are beans and legumes the same thing?

No, beans are a type of legume, but not all legumes are beans. Legumes encompass a broader category of plants that also includes peas, lentils, and chickpeas.

2. Can I use different types of beans interchangeably in recipes?

While different types of beans have distinct flavors and textures, they can generally be substituted for one another in recipes. However, keep in mind that cooking times may vary, so adjust accordingly.

3. Are there any health benefits associated with consuming beans?

Absolutely! Beans are packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They have been linked to various health benefits, such as improved digestion, reduced cholesterol levels, and better blood sugar control.

4. Can beans be consumed raw?

No, raw beans are not recommended for consumption as they contain certain toxic compounds. It is essential to cook beans thoroughly to eliminate these toxins and ensure their safety for consumption.

5. Are there any cultural significance or traditions associated with beans?

Beans hold cultural significance in many societies. For example, in some African cultures, beans are believed to bring good luck and prosperity. In the United States, beans are a central ingredient in dishes like chili, often associated with cowboy culture.

6. Can I grow my own beans at home?

Absolutely! Beans can be easily grown in home gardens, provided they have suitable growing conditions, such as well-drained soil, adequate sunlight, and proper watering. There are numerous bean varieties specifically bred for home cultivation.

7. Are there any unique uses for beans?

Yes, apart from being a versatile ingredient in cooking, beans have other unique uses. For example, they can be used as a natural dye, producing various shades of brown and beige. Additionally, bean plants can be used as nitrogen-fixing cover crops, enriching the soil with nutrients.


Beans, known by various names across different regions and cultures, are a highly versatile and nutritious food source. Whether you refer to them as rajma, haricot rouge, or turtle beans, beans play a vital role in culinary traditions and are appreciated for their taste, texture, and health benefits. So, the next time you enjoy a hearty bowl of chili or a flavorful bean salad, remember the diverse names and rich cultural heritage associated with this humble legume.

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