High-Protein Plants: Tarwi

One native food specific to South America is called Tarwi. This edible bean is a popular ingredient added to soups and stews. Tarwi has a firm and smooth texture and produces a nutty and salty taste, much like soybeans. It’s also one example of popular plant-based protein foods, making it the perfect vegan protein source alternative.

Girls with vegetables

What Is Tarwi?

Maybe you're one of the many who’ve asked “what is tarwi?”

And you’re not alone. This bean may be famous in South America but is a bit unfamiliar to those that live outside the Andean region of the continent. 

Tarwi, also known as chocho or Andean lupin, is a kind of leguminous plant that is commonly grown in the Andean regions of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. Aside from being a complementary ingredient to salads or ceviches, this edible bean-like seed can also be roasted and eaten as a snack. Some even crush it and use its powder to make bread or noodles.

One of its many advantages is the plant’s tolerance of cool summer temperatures and drought. It is also highly resistant to pests and adaptable enough to grow in marginal soils. Furthermore, tarwi beans are packed with high nutritional value!

Why Should You Eat More Tarwi?

Rich in Protein

What plants are known to have the most protein? Lentils and Quinoa are some good examples. But do you know you can also get protein from tarwi? In fact, the bean has 40% protein content, which is the highest among bean species.  

Packed with Antioxidants

Aside from being included in a list of top plant-based protein food sources, tarwi is also a wonderful source of antioxidants. The beans contain phytochemicals that can help remove free radicals in your body. And if left alone, free radicals can cause damage in the body that may develop into chronic illness. Tarwi can remove free radicals before they can produce any damage.

Beneficial to the Digestive System

Tarwi contains fiber which keeps the digestive system fully functional. Fiber also acts as a probiotic, which helps nourish the good bacterial flora in the colon. Probiotics are essentially healthy bacteria that are necessary to the maintenance of optimal health, and especially the condition of your gut.

Low in Carbohydrates and Glycemic Index

You don’t need to worry about your carbohydrate and sugar intake when eating tarwi. This is because it has a low carbohydrate content. Tarwi contains carbohydrates that are slower to digest. As a result, you won’t experience a sudden sugar spike during consumption, making it safe for diabetics.

Boosts Immunity

Tarwi’s high protein levels are vital in performing tissue repair in your body. Tissue repair is important because it keeps the body strong and immune against acute and chronic injuries and diseases. Tarwi also has high amounts of zinc, which keeps the body’s immunity intact.

How to Prepare Tarwi and Add It to Your Dishes

Girl looking at salad

Tarwi has alkaloids that add a slightly bitter flavor. They can also cause side effects like weakness, nausea, and vision issues. Because of this, it is highly recommended to rinse them before consumption in order to remove alkaloids and lectins.

Foremost, rinse the tarwi beans thoroughly, then place them in a pot of cold water. Leave them soaking overnight. The next day, drain and rinse them once again. Try to taste one bean and if it’s still bitter, you can boil the rest in salted water for about 90 minutes. After boiling, rinse the tarwi once again, and you should be left with delicious legumes that embody a nutty texture and a sweet flavor.

Delicious tarwi recipes that you can make at home

Ceviche de Tarwi


Tarwi beans

Sweet potatoes


Ají limo




Rinse and boil the tarwi seeds to remove the bitterness. Mix the tarwi with onions and add salt. Then, let the tarwi mixture sit in lemon juice and diced ají limo. Serve the tarwi with lettuce leaves and boiled sweet potato slices on the side.

Tarwi Burger

Ingredients for Burger Patties:

Tarwi beans

Rolled oats

Red onion





Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Ingredients for Breading:

Wheat flour

Panko breadcrumbs

3 T flax meal


Chop onion and garlic and let them saute in oil over medium heat. When done cooking, set them aside. Place rinsed and boiled tarwi beans in a large container and mash them. Then, add in the rolled oats, carrots, onion mixture, parsley, and cumin into the mashed tarwi. Mix until well combined but chunky. Form the tarwi mixture into patties. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the patties in the oven for 15 minutes. 

Girl vegan

For the breading, mix 3 T flax meal with ¾ cup water. Leave it for about 15 minutes until it reaches the consistency of an egg. Place flour, breadcrumbs, and the 3 T flax meal mixture in separate containers. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to the flour. When the patties have already been cooked and cooled out, dip them first into the flour, then to the breadcrumbs, and lastly to the 3 T flax meal mixture. Bake the patties once again in the oven for 15 minutes on each side until crispy.

Tarwi Meatballs


Cooked tarwi


Parsley leaves

Egg Substitute


Minced garlic

Laurel leaf



Red wine or red vinegar



Salt and pepper


Blend tarwi, onion, egg substitute, and parsley. While blending, slowly add in the flour, cumin, salt, and pepper. When everything is blended well, form the mixture into meatballs and fry them.

For the sauce, first brown the onion, garlic, and carrot in a pot. Then, add in the bay leaf and tomatoes. Pour in the wine or vinegar. You may opt to add in the meatballs or serve the sauce separately.

Take Away

Does all protein come from plants? No, because there are other sources of protein that are not plant or fruit-based. However,  if you’re looking for plant-based protein food, you should definitely consider tarwi. Not only does this Andean legume have various health benefits, but it's tasty and very easy to prepare in vegan dishes of all kinds!

Visit the Vegan Health Pack today for your reliable source of vegan information!

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