What are chickpeas?
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a creamy-coloured, buttery and nutty-flavoured pulse. They are one of the world's oldest cultivated legumes. They originate from the Middle East and grow best in a tropical climate.
Chickpeas are available pre-cooked in cans or dried; they must be soaked before cooking. Chickpea or Gram Flour (made from dried ground chickpeas) is widely used in Indian and Bangladeshi dishes.
Chickpeas are low in fat, high in protein and very satisfying, so ideal for a vegetarian, vegan, or weight loss diet. They are high in fibre too, which helps to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. They are a source of the minerals folate, for a healthy heart, and healing, immune-boosting zinc, plus a range of antioxidants.
Store dried chickpeas in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and in an airtight container.
How do I prepare chickpeas?
The Romans added chickpeas to broth and ate them roasted as a snack, while in ancient Greece they were used in desserts. In the modern-day Philippines, chickpeas are also used in desserts like halo-halo, meaning 'mix-mix', with candied fruit, shaved ice and evaporated milk.
During the First World War, Germans substituted roasted and ground chickpeas for coffee when supplies were cut off.
Chickpeas are a staple food in India, used in curries and dahl. They are the main ingredient of Middle Eastern hummus and falafel. In Western cooking, they can be used in soups, stews and hearty salads.
To shorten the cooking time and aid digestion, first soak the dried chickpeas for at least a few hours but ideally overnight. The addition of bicarbonate of soda to the water will speed up the process. Another method is to bring them to the boil then turn off the heat and leave uncovered in the pan of water for one to two hours.
Once soaked, rinse them under running water and bring to the boil in a partially-covered pot one part chickpeas to three parts fresh, un-salted water, as salt will increase the cooking time. Simmer for an hour or until tender, skimming off any foam that appears on the surface.
Dried chickpeas can also be sprouted. Follow this link to read more on sprouting.
A tasty version of the classic hummus is available here or try the Lemon and Parsley version.
Try these delicious Chickpea Burgers.
Or these Roasted Chickpeas with Nuts and Seeds to impress your guests!
Or if you've a tagine you want to use, try this Moroccan Chickpea recipe.
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