Kashmir Bean: Mountain Bounty

by | Aug 2, 2022

Kashmir conjures up visions of monstrous mountains covered in snow at the top of the world, and certainly does not call up a picture of beans. Yet according to one source Kashmir heritage beans are the most widely used variety in India! Who could resist trying this variety? I am glad I grew it, for Kashmir is the most highly yielding bush bean in my trials so far.

Figure 1. Flowers of Kashmir bush bean. Saanich Peninsula, British Columbia. Photo Richard Hebda, July 29, 2022.
Figure 2. Cluster of young pods of Kashmir bush bean. Saanich Peninsula, British Columbia. Photo Richard Hebda, July 29, 2022.

My source of seed was T&T Seeds of Manitoba at https://ttseeds.com/product/bean-kasmir/ They clearly note this as a heritage variety. Kashmir, also known as Kashmir Thin Skin, is a bush bean with a tendency to have a semi-vine form. At time of harvest my plants ranged from 75-125cm (average 97cm) long, intertwined among other bushy beans. Pods are slightly curved turning pale beige to pale purple when dry. Pod length varies 9-11.5cm (average 10.3cm). There are 4-5 seeds per pod. Seeds resemble red kidney beans being brownish red with a small white scar surrounded by a thin black margin. Individual beans are 1.2-1.3cm long, 0.7-0.9cm high; 0.5-0.6cm wide.

Figure 3. Seeds of Kashmir bush bean with black rim visible around the scar. Photo Richard Hebda, July 31, 2022.

I sowed my seed on May 5 in a densely planted raised bed and well composted soil. The bed was covered in 6 mil plastic polyethylene sheet. Seeds had germinated well by May 14. Pods were harvested into a paper bag at one time on August 24. The bushes still had many green leaves (Figure 3). Ninety percent of the pods were dry and remained closed when harvested avoiding seed loss. The sowing to harvest interval was 111 days, but I suspect with later sowing in warm soil, 100 days would have been long enough to get a full yield.  T&T seeds indicates 80 days will mature a crop. But that interval must apply to a inland continental climate with hot summers not our moderate coastal conditions.  The result was 1.2kg of dry beans in 2.5m of row resulting in exceptional yield compared to other varieties of 0.48kg/m of row.

Figure 3. Mature bushes of Kashmir from which dry beige pods were harvested. Note that many of the leaves were still green at time of harvest. Saanich Peninsula, British Columbia. Photo Richard Hebda, August 26, 2020

I have yet to try eating my Kashmir beans, but I am certain they would be perfect for chili con “carne” or without “carne”. There are many suggested recipes on-line. T&T Seeds includes a detailed description of Kashmiri Rajma https://ttseeds.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/166.pdf. It looks to me like a most flavourful food that I am sure can be modified to taste. Rajma is a vegetarian dish made of red kidney beans (like Kashmir) in a thick spicy sauce. Kashmir beans keep their colour and form well when cooked and are well-suited to simmered dishes. The beans are ideal for use in soups and especially bean salads in which they keep their colourful form.  Heritage beans come in many varieties from around the world. India’s Kashmir bean looks like an excellent choice for the gardener seeking high yields in a small space.