Chickpeas 101

Chickpeas 101

You might call them ceci, garbanzo beans, Indian peas or another name -- but we have been eating chickpeas for thousands of years. They're a favorite ingredient in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, Burmese, Italiian, Jewish, Philippine, and other cuisines and grown around the world. Although canned chickpeas can be high in sodium, they are otherwise a nearly perfect food, containing carbohydrates, protein, sugar, and fiber, plus bunches of vitamins and other nutrients.

Plus they taste fabulous. They have a nutty, satisfying flavor and a slightly grainy texture that makes a wonderful contrast to other ingredients.

Chickpeas are grown in a tropical or subtropical climate and like other legumes, come from plants with pods. Where they're grown, chickpeas may be eaten just picked and raw, but most of us buy them either in a can or dried.

Progresso and Goya make excellent canned chickpeas. I always look for low sodium ones since many canned beans contain more salt than we can possibly rinse off. I also think that canned chickpeas are more tender and have a slightly smoother texture than reconstituted dried peas and so I use canned ones in recipes where they'll stay whole, as in a salad.

But dried chickpeas are a great pantry addition; they keep for months and are an excellent value when bought in bulk (look for them in natural food stores and larger markets that have excellent bulk ingredient departments, such as New York's Fairway or Whole Foods).

Bringing Dried Chickpeas Back To Life

Although they're easy to reconstitute, as with any dried legume, it takes time for the soaking and cooking so plan ahead. Also remember that going from dried to cooked increases their size: one cup of dried chickpeas will become about 2 cups when cooked.

Here's how it’s done:

  1. Pick through the dried chickpeas for any debris or peas that are notably discolored. Rinse in cool water.
  2. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover by an inch with water. Let soak overnight or 12 hours (no need to refrigerate).
  3. Drain and transfer the chickpeas to a large pot. Cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that may form. Once the foam is gone, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour or until soft and tender but not falling-apart-mushy.
  4. Reconstituted chickpeas can be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for about 3 days.


Note: Do not salt the chickpeas while cooking as this can make them tough.

Cooking With Chickpeas

As a global food, chickpeas are notably versatile:

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Legumes and BeansChickpeas

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