A cowpea breeding program was set up to develop varieties with short, non-viny stem, early and uniform bearing of green pods, medium-long and fleshy pods, and appreciable protein contents in green pods and dry seeds. An effective strategy was to combine the erect, determinate, and early maturing characters of cvg. Unguiculata (ssp. unguiculata) or Biflora (ssp. cylindrica) genotypes with the long, succulent, and fleshy podded characters of cvg. Sesquipedalis (ssp. sesquipedalis) genotypes. Crossing between genotypes of sesquipedalis and those of unguiculata and cylindrica revealed low success due to specific cross combinations, genetic divergence and environment. Additive genetic variance was predominant for pod length and weight, and protein content in pods and seeds. In the revelation of partial dominance of short and light pods of unguiculata and cylindrica over long and heavy pods of sesquipedalis genotypes, advancement of genotypes of highly heterotic unguiculata x sesquipedalis or cylindrica × sesquipedalis hybrids by modified backcross-pedigree method proved successful. Selection in the advanced generations should be based on bushy or less viny, high yielding segregates with appreciable protein contents in pods and seeds. Two high yielding and non-viny varieties of vegetable cowpea, Bidhan Barbati-1 (25.2 cm long pod containing 3.87% protein and yield 13.4t/ha) and Bidhan Barbati-2 (25.8 cm long pod containing 4.00% protein and yield 15.9t/ha), were developed following this breeding strategy.