If you’re wondering about chickpeas, from what they are to how to use them, you’re in the right place! Below is a comprehensive article all about chickpeas!
Chickpeas 101 – The Basics
Chickpeas are members of the Fabaceae plant family. They originated in the Middle East, where they are still widely used. Researchers have evidence that chickpeas were consumed as far as 7,000 years ago, with evidence that they were cultivated as far back as 3,000 BC. From the Middle East, chickpeas slowly made their way around the world. Today, the main commercial producers of chickpeas are India, Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Mexico.
Chickpeas have developed many names around the world, including garbanzo beans, garbanzos, grams, Bengal grams, Egyptian peas, and besan (when ground into flour). There are different varieties of chickpeas commonly grown, with some being green, black, brown, red, or the very familiar tan color. “Kabuli” are large and beige with a thin skin. This is the type commonly found in American grocery stores. “Desi” chickpeas are small and dark with yellow interiors. The Desi type chickpeas are about half the size of the Kabuli chickpea that Americans are familiar with. This is the most popular type of chickpea worldwide. They have a thicker seed coat than the Kabuli type. “Green” chickpeas are younger and have a sweeter flavor than the other types. They are similar to green peas.
Chickpeas are the seeds of the plant, grown for their highly nutritious qualities, including an abundance of fiber, protein and other nutrients. They have a mild, nutty flavor and buttery texture. Chickpeas are naturally gluten-free.
Nutrition Tidbits and Health Benefits
Chickpeas contain a lot of antioxidants, protein, fiber and other nutrients too. Their antioxidants not only combat free-radicals in the body, but also appear to have anti-inflammatory effects. This alone makes them powerful foods to include in the diet.
Chickpeas also supply a lot of protein, with 1 cup of cooked chickpeas providing over 14 grams. That same cup of cooked chickpeas also provides over 12 grams of fiber, along with a lot of molybdenum, manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. One cup of cooked chickpeas has about 270 calories. They have a low glycemic index, so they are digested and absorbed slowly, without a large spike in blood sugar.
Selecting Chickpeas: Dried vs Canned
Dried: Chickpeas are sold dried or canned. Dried chickpeas are usually prepackaged but are sometimes sold in bulk bins. Make sure there is no sign of moisture or insect damage when selecting dried chickpeas. When purchasing from bulk bins, also make sure there is a good turnover of product in the bins so you can be assured they are as fresh as possible.
Canned: Most grocery stores carry canned chickpeas and they are a great staple food to keep in the pantry when time is short. They can simply be used from the can when needed for a salad or hummus, or heated briefly in cooked foods. Many people use the liquid from canned chickpeas (called aquafaba) as an egg white substitute and when making vegan meringues.
The nutritional value of canned chickpeas is good when compared to some other canned foods. The value of most nutrients is lowered by about 15% in canned chickpeas, with the exception of folate, which is lowered by 45% when compared to the folate level in dried chickpeas. There is some concern with the BPA content of canned goods. If you are avoiding BPA from canned foods, be sure to look for cans labeled as BPA-free. Also, some canned chickpeas may contain additives like salt and/or calcium chloride (a firming agent). If those additives are concerns for you, then dried chickpeas may be a better option. However, organic canned chickpeas should contain little to no additives with the exception of salt. Some brands may carry salt-free options in BPA-free cans.
Aquafaba is what many people call the liquid in canned chickpeas. (Note that this does not apply to the liquid in other types of canned beans.) Due to its thick nature, this liquid can be used straight from the can as a substitute for egg whites in cooking. It can also be whipped into meringues and marshmallows.
Mix aquafaba with some cream of tartar and whip as you would egg whites. The fluff will hold together well and lighten quick breads and muffins. According to Bob’s Red Mill, use 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar with ½ cup (8 tablespoons) of aquafaba. For more information on how to use aquafaba as an egg replacer, please visit their site at https://www.bobsredmill.com/blog/featured-articles/a-guide-to-aquafaba/
To use aquafaba, it’s helpful to first shake the unopened can of chickpeas. Open and drain the can into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, separating the canned peas from their liquid. Briefly whisk the liquid to blend the starches that may have settled on the bottom of the can, then measure it as needed for a recipe. Fresh aquafaba can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Extra aquafaba can easily be frozen for later. Freeze it in 1 tablespoon increments in an ice cube tray. When frozen, transfer the cubes to a labeled freezer bag. It may easily be thawed in the microwave, if desired. Aquafaba will keep for about 2 months in the freezer.
See also: A Guide To Aquafaba at https://minimalistbaker.com/a-guide-to-aquafaba/
Chickpea flour is available in some grocery stores, and can be purchased online. Most chickpea flour available is made from raw chickpeas. When using this type of flour, be sure it is used in a recipe where it is well-moistened and also cooked in some way. This will make it more digestible. Otherwise, the finished product may be hard to digest and could cause excessive gas. Because it is usually made from raw chickpeas, this type of flour should not be eaten raw.
How to Store Chickpeas
Dried chickpeas should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. They will keep well for about a year. The longer they are stored, the drier they will become and may take longer to cook. It’s helpful to rotate your supply of dried chickpeas (like all foods), using the “first-in, first-out” method (cook your oldest chickpeas first). Once cooked, chickpeas should be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container and used within four days.
As with most, if not all canned foods, canned chickpeas should have a “best by” date stamped on the can. For best quality, use them before that date. Store cans in a cool, dry place.
How to Prepare Dried Chickpeas
Dried chickpeas should first be sorted and examined so you can remove any stones, debris, or damaged beans. Then they should be rinsed well and drained. Before actual cooking, chickpeas should be soaked which makes them more digestible. There are two methods for soaking chickpeas.
Quick-soak method: Place the sorted and rinsed beans in a large pot with about 2 to 3 parts of water to 1 part of chickpeas. Bring the contents to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and allow the chickpeas to soak for 2 hours. Then drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add fresh water to the pot and bring it to boil. Lower the heat and simmer until they are tender. The time will vary depending upon how dry the beans were. Drain, then use as planned.
Traditional soaking method: This method involves a longer soaking time, but may actually be preferred because it further reduces compounds in the chickpeas that may cause gas when they are eaten. After the peas are sorted, rinsed and drained, place them in a large pot with at least 3 to 4 parts of water per 1 part of chickpeas. Cover the pot and allow them to soak for at least 6 to 8 hours, up to 12 hours. Drain, then fill the pot with fresh water. Bring them to boil, lower heat and simmer gently until the chickpeas are tender. The time will depend upon how long they soaked and how dry they were initially. Some directions call for cooking up to 2 hours, but I have found that they usually cook faster than that. Drain, then use as planned.
Note! When cooking any type of dried pea or bean, be sure not to add any acid nor salt to the water early on when cooking the pea or bean. Doing so will make the outer shell tough which makes the dried pea or bean hard to cook, and they may not soften like you expect. If you want to salt the water or add an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar), only add it when the peas or beans are almost finished cooking and no sooner.
One cup of dried chickpeas yields about three cups cooked. Cooked chickpeas should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator and used within four days.
Sorted, rinsed and soaked, but uncooked chickpeas may be frozen in covered containers. After soaking, drain them well, then place them in an airtight freezer container. They will keep in the freezer for up to 1 year.
If you want to cook dried chickpeas in advance and have them whenever needed, simply drain your cooked chickpeas and place them in a labeled freezer bag. Flatten the bag, lay them down in the freezer and allow them to freeze. Frozen, cooked chickpeas will keep well for 1 year. However, some resources state that they should be used within 6 months for best quality.
Quick Tips and Ideas for Using Chickpeas
* Make an easy hummus by blending chickpeas with olive oil, fresh garlic, tahini and lemon juice.
* Add a nutritional punch to your salads by topping them with some chickpeas.
* Make an easy pasta dish by topping cooked pasta with chickpeas, olive oil, crumbled feta cheese and fresh oregano.
* Add some chickpeas to vegetable soup to enhance its flavor, texture and nutritional value.
* Add chickpeas to a roasted veggie and quinoa salad.
* Add chickpeas to your favorite stir-fry.
Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Chickpeas
Basil (and Thai basil), bay leaf, capers, cardamom, cayenne, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder and spices, dill, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard seeds, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper (black and white), rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, sumac, tarragon, thyme, turmeric
Foods That Go Well with Chickpeas
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, cashews, chicken, lentils, pine nuts, pistachios, seeds (i.e. pumpkin, sesame), tahini, walnuts
Vegetables: Artichokes, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard (Swiss), chiles, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, green beans, greens (bitter, like beet greens), greens (salad), kale, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, spinach, squash (summer), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini
Fruits: Apples, apple cider, apple juice, apricots (dried), avocados, citrus (lemon, lime, orange), coconut, currants, mangoes, olives, pumpkin, tamarind
Grains and Grain Products: Bread, bulgur, corn, couscous, farro, millet, pasta, polenta, quinoa, rice, tortillas, wheat berries
Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (cheddar, feta, goat, Parmesan), coconut milk, yogurt
Other Foods: Mayonnaise, oil, soy sauce, tamari, vinegar
Chickpeas have been used in the following cuisines and foods:
North African cuisine, chana masala, chili (vegetarian), curries, dips, falafels, Greek cuisine, hummus, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, Mediterranean cuisines, Mexican cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, Moroccan cuisine, salad dressings, salads, soups (i.e. minestrone, tomato, vegetable), spreads, stews, tabbouleh, veggie burgers
Suggested Flavor Combos Using Chickpeas
Combine chickpeas with the following combos…
Apricots + pistachios + tahini
Basil + brown rice + curry
Basil + cucumbers + feta cheese + garlic + red onions
Bulgur + eggplant + mint + quinoa
Cayenne + feta cheese + garlic + spinach + tomatoes
Chiles + cilantro + lime
Coriander + cumin + mint + sesame seeds
Cumin + eggplant
Garlic + lemon + tahini
Mint + onions + yogurt
Potatoes + saffron + Thai basil
Spinach + sweet potatoes
Garlic Dip http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=223
Minted Garbanzo Bean Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=191
Healthy Veggie Salad http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=311
Curried Mustard Greens and Garbanzo Beans with Sweet Potatoes http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=41
Carrot Hummus https://www.thespruceeats.com/carrot-hummus-4772801
Honey Roasted Chickpea Butter https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-honey-roasted-chickpea-butter-239671
How to Make Crispy Roasted Chickpeas in the Oven https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-crispy-roasted-chickpeas-in-the-oven-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-219753
Risotto with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Chickpeas https://fakeginger.com/risotto-with-caramelized-onions-mushrooms-and-chickpeas/
Crispy Roasted Chickpeas https://steamykitchen.com/10725-crispy-roasted-chickpeas-garbanzo-beans.html
Coconut Ginger Chickpea Soup https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/coconut-ginger-chickpea-soup
Spiced Chickpeas and Greens Frittata https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/spiced-chickpeas-and-greens-frittata
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cauliflower Steaks and Crispy Chickpeas https://producemadesimple.ca/5-ingredient-recipe-shaved-brussels-sprouts-salad-with-cauliflower-steaks-and-crispy-chickpeas/
Mediterranean Avocado Chickpea Pasta Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/mediterranean-avocado-chickpea-pasta-salad/
Chickpea Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/chickpea-flour-chocolate-chip-cookies/
20 Amazing Things You Can Do With Aquafaba https://www.vegansociety.com/whats-new/blog/20-amazing-things-you-can-do-aquafaba
19 Aquafaba Recipes That Prove Chickpea Water is Not as Gross as It Sounds https://greatist.com/eat/aquafaba-recipes
The 25 Best Vegan Aquafaba Recipes You Never Knew Could Be Vegan https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/the-25-best-vegan-aquafaba-recipes-you-never-knew-could-be-vegan/
Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.