When we think of legumes, most of us think of beans, peas and lentils.
Chickpeas are also a very tasty and healthy legume.
It has a mild nutty flavor and can be prepared in many ways.
Did you know that it can even replace meat in some dishes?
How is it soaking it and how are canned chickpeas doing health wise?
Let’s take a closer look at this interesting crop.
What is chickpea
Chickpeas can easily be said to be the tastiest legume ever. Its taste is reminiscent of nuts, and it has a much softer and creamier consistency than other legumes. This is due to the higher fat content.
Due to the many health-promoting substances it contains, it is sometimes referred to as a superfood. In addition, a really wide range of dishes can be prepared from it. We can buy chickpeas in two forms – dried or canned.
Types of chickpeas
Two main types of chickpeas, Kabuli and Desi, are currently cultivated. The Kabuli type is also known as Garbanzo beans, chickpeas or Roman peas. It is relatively round, cream-colored, and the species name “ram” is related to the fact that the seeds are bumpy with a kind of beak, supposedly resembling a ram’s head. Most of the chickpeas we buy are the Kabuli type. It usually has a nutty, mild flavor and remains crunchy even after cooking.
Desi chickpea or black chickpea or Kala Chana is smaller, darker and has a thicker seed coat. This type is mainly used for the production of chickpea flour. The dark covering of the seeds is removed. Green chickpeas are also available in some health food stores. These are younger seeds with a sweet taste, almost like green peas.
Store dried chickpeas in a dry and dark place. Remember that the longer it is stored, the drier it becomes, which in turn increases the cooking time. Also, always check dried chickpeas before cooking. Discard any seeds that are shriveled or damaged. Sometimes you can also find pebbles or twigs in it.
Canned chickpeas are particularly advantageous because they are ready to use immediately, as they are already pre-cooked. Store canned chickpeas in a cool, dry place. Be sure to rinse it well before use to reduce the sodium content.
Why consume chickpeas?
Chickpeas are very rich in various nutrients. It contains a large amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fiber and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. For this reason too, today it is considered a superfood, which for many reasons is worth including in our diet. Of course, it also depends to a large extent on what foods we combine chickpeas with in the final dish.
Carbohydrates represent the largest share of chickpeas in terms of nutritional value. Their advantage is that they are slowly absorbed, which is why chickpea dishes keep us full for several hours. The proportion of protein and fiber is also high. Compared to other legumes, chickpeas have a higher fat content, which gives them a creamier consistency. Among the minerals, it stands out mainly for its high content of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron. As for vitamins, it is rich in the whole range of B vitamins.
Nutritional values in chickpeas
It is interesting to compare raw chickpeas with other common legumes such as white beans, peas and lentils.
| White beans|
|Energy||378 calories||333 calories||81 kcal||352 calories|
|Water||7.68 g||11.3 g||78.9 g||8.26 g|
|Carbohydrates||63 g||60.3 g||14.4 g||63.4 mg|
|Proteins||20.5 g||23.4 g||5.42 g||24.6 mg|
|Fats||6.05 g||0.85 g||0.4 g||1.06 mg|
|Fiber||12.2 g||15.2 g||5.7 g||10.7 mg|
Nutritional values change due to processing, however, there are no major differences between dried and canned chickpeas.
| Raw chickpeas|
| Dried chickpeas|
| Canned chickpeas|
|Energy||378 calories||163 calories||146 calories|
|Water||7.68 g||59.8 g||64 g|
|Carbohydrates||63 g||27.3 g||22.4 g|
|Proteins||20.5 g||8.81 g||8.19 g|
|Fats||6.05 g||2.58 g||3.24 g|
|Fiber||12.2 g||7.6 g||7.3 g|
Vitamins and minerals
| White beans|
|Vitamin B1||0.477 mg||0.437 mg||0.266 mg||0.873 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.212 mg||0.146 mg||0.132 mg||0.211 mg|
|Vitamin B3||1.54 mg||0.479 mg||2.09 mg||2.6 mg|
|Vitamin B5||1.59 mg||0.732 mg||0.104 mg||2.14 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.535 mg||0.318 mg||0.169 mg||0.54 mg|
|Vitamin B9||0.557 mg||0.388||0.065 mg||0.479 mg|
|Vitamin C||4 mg||0 mg||40 mg||4.5 mg|
|Potassium||718 mg||1800 mg||244 mg||677 mg|
|Phosphorus||252 mg||301 mg||108 mg||281 mg|
|Magnesium||79 mg||190 mg||33 mg||47 mg|
|Sodium||24 mg||16 mg||5 mg||6 mg|
|Calcium||57 mg||240 mg||25 mg||35 mg|
|Zinc||2.76 mg||3.67 mg||1.24 mg||3.27 mg|
|Iron||4.31 mg||10.4 mg||1.47 mg||6.51 mg|
| Raw chickpeas|
| Dried chickpeas|
| Canned chickpeas|
|Vitamin B1||0.477 mg||0.11 mg||0.051 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.212 mg||0.059 mg||0.024 mg|
|Vitamin B3||1.54 mg||0.497 mg||0.205 mg|
|Vitamin B5||1.59 mg||–||–|
|Vitamin B6||0.535 mg||0.131 mg||0.748 mg|
|Vitamin B9||0.557 mg||0.116 mg||0.04 mg|
|Vitamin C||4 mg||1.2 mg||0.2 mg|
|Potassium||718 mg||289 mg||240 mg|
|Phosphorus||252 mg||167 mg||133 mg|
|Magnesium||79 mg||48 mg||45 mg|
|Sodium||24 mg||238 mg||324 mg|
|Calcium||57 mg||49 mg||58 mg|
|Zinc||2.76 mg||1.52 mg||1.15 mg|
|Iron||4.31 mg||2.84 mg||2.05 mg|
Why are chickpeas healthy?
Chickpeas are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber and can have a number of health benefits, such as helping to regulate weight, improve digestion and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. What health problems and diseases can it be a good prevention against?
- Cardiovascular Disease – Chickpeas are an excellent source of several minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, which may support heart health by helping to prevent high blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the soluble fiber in chickpeas has been shown to lower triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Blood sugar regulation and diabetes – chickpeas can help regulate blood sugar in several ways. Firstly, it has a relatively low glycemic index. In addition, the fiber and protein contained in it can help regulate blood sugar levels. That’s because fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, promoting a steady, gradual rise in blood sugar rather than a sudden spike. Eating protein-rich foods can also help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Chickpeas can help prevent and treat diabetes thanks to their effects on blood sugar regulation.
- Digestive system – chickpeas are high in soluble fiber, which benefits digestion by promoting bowel movement, increasing the number of healthy bacteria in the gut and helping to prevent the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. This can reduce the risk of certain digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer.
- Cancer – some research suggests that regular consumption of chickpeas may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer. This is because this legume can promote the production of butyrate, a fatty acid that can reduce inflammation in colon cells, which can reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Brain function – thanks to its impressive nutrient profile, chickpeas can also support brain function and mental health. This is partly because it is a great source of choline, which plays an important role in brain function. This nutrient is especially necessary for the production of specific neurotransmitters that function as chemical messengers for the nerve cells of our body. Chickpeas also contain a generous dose of magnesium, a key mineral for nerve function.
- Weight management – The protein and fiber in chickpeas can help keep your appetite under control. Together, they slow down digestion, which helps promote satiety. The satiating effects of protein and fiber can actually automatically lower your caloric intake.
- Vegan and vegetarian – this legume is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it an excellent food for people who do not eat meat or animal products. Some studies suggest that the protein quality of chickpeas is better than that of other legumes.
Chickpeas and flatulence
Like other legumes, chickpeas, i.e. the dried ones, should be soaked for several hours before use. Chickpea seeds contain substances that adversely affect digestibility. Consumption of chickpeas that have not been soaked can result in various problems with the digestive system, especially bloating, flatulence or feelings of bloating.
How to consume chickpeas
As we have already indicated, this universal legume has a very versatile use in the kitchen. A wide range of cold and hot dishes can be prepared from it. You can use both dried and canned chickpeas. It just depends on your personal preferences and the amount of time you have available to prepare the dish. Chickpeas can be boiled, baked and fried.
To soak or not to soak?
Dried chickpeas must be soaked before use. The general recommendation is three cups (750 ml) of water for every one cup (250 ml) of chickpeas. Soak the chickpeas for at least four hours, but overnight soaking for at least eight hours is preferable. Then pour out the soaking water and rinse the chickpeas well under running water. This flushes out gas-causing substances. Then cook the chickpeas in a pot of water until soft, depending on the soaking time, the cooking time is around an hour.
One of the most traditional dishes that has been prepared from chickpeas for centuries is hummus . This is also a dip that originally comes from the region of today’s Lebanon. Today, however, it is popular not only throughout the Middle East, but also in Europe and America. By the way, the name hummus comes from the Arabic word for chickpea, which sounds like ḥimmaṣ.
Do you want to make a party or a family celebration special with this delicious cold treat? The preparation is very simple. The basic recipe consists only of cooked and mashed or blended chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic and tahani or sesame paste. But there are many variants, for example with turmeric, paprika or beetroot.
Another classic chickpea dish is fried balls or patties known as falafel , which are beautifully crispy on the surface and soft on the inside. The dish originally comes from either Egypt or India, historians still argue. Today it is popular throughout the Arab world, but chickpea balls have also penetrated Western civilization and you can prepare them yourself at home. In addition to chickpeas, various spices are needed, such as cumin, coriander, pepper, salt, and also garlic, onion, and parsley.
Chickpea salad and spreads
In a cold kitchen, cooked and cooled chickpeas or rinsed chickpeas from a can can be added to a wide range of different salads. There are almost no limits to imagination, chickpea salads are always nutritious, tasty and healthy.
In addition to various vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, chickpeas also go well with arugula, avocado, tuna or feta cheese. In addition to salads, you can also prepare a variety of spreads from chickpeas for dinner or a snack, which taste great not only with traditional Arabic pita bread, but with any fresh pastry.
If you prefer warm dishes, chickpeas will warm and satiate you in the form of soup on dry autumn and winter days. The most classic is a combination with carrots or tomatoes, but if you like Indian cuisine, try soup with chickpeas , curry and coconut milk. Soups are generally better prepared from dried chickpeas.
Chickpeas instead of meat
Chickpeas are a very popular crop for vegans and vegetarians, as they are a great substitute for meat in many dishes, as they contain a large amount of protein. Try it in the form of chickpeas with paprika , as meatballs, in goulash or, if you like Indian cuisine, also in curry. Last but not least, you can easily add chickpeas to meat, for example in various meat mixtures, they get along great especially with chicken.
Crispy baked chickpeas are a great delicacy. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Dry the chickpeas with a paper towel, mix with a small amount of olive oil and any spices. Spread the chickpeas on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy.
In addition to the dried or canned form of chickpeas, we can also find several other products made from this legume.
Chickpea flour is sought after not only for its slightly nutty taste, which it subsequently adds to the dishes to which we add it, but also for its nutritional value and gluten-freeness. Its production is very simple, it is created by grinding dried chickpeas. It is used not only for baking, but also for thickening soups, sauces and as one of the ingredients in minced meat dishes.
With the popularity of healthy food, other products are now appearing, such as chickpea couscous, chickpea pasta or instant chickpea soup .
Cultivation and attractions
Botanically, chickpeas belong to the legume family. It is an annual plant that is covered with glandular hairs. The fruit is a pod, which hides several spherical seeds. More than forty species of chickpea are known, most of them wild. Mainly two types of chickpea are grown for agricultural purposes.
Kabuli or garbanzo beans, chickpeas or Roman peas. The name Kabuli literally means “from Kabul”, as it is believed to have originated in Kabul, Afghanistan, from where it was first imported to India. The species name “ram” is related to the fact that the seeds are bumpy with a kind of beak, and are said to resemble a ram’s head.
Where do chickpeas come from?
Today, wild chickpeas are found mainly in Turkey and Syria. In these areas, people probably started to domesticate it as the first legume. Remains of cultivated chickpeas were found already 7500 years ago. It proved to be popular with many different nations, subsequently spreading around the world via trade routes. Chickpeas thus formed part of the diet of many ancient civilizations, including Egypt, Greece and Rome.
The ancient Romans associated chickpeas with Venus, the goddess of love and fertility, to whom chickpeas were often sacrificed. Why? It is said to increase the volume of milk and sperm and also stimulate menstruation. In addition, foods containing chickpeas were commonly eaten at “erotic festivals” held in honor of Venus. It was not until the 16th century that Spanish explorers brought chickpeas to other parts of the world.
Did you know that this legume can be used as a decaffeinated coffee substitute? Ground roasted chickpeas have been used as an alternative to coffee beans since the end of the 17th century. During the First World War, it was said to have been cultivated in many countries with this use in mind.
Where chickpeas are grown
Chickpeas are one of the most popular legumes in the world. This is probably due to the combination of its pleasant taste, great nutritional value and ease of cultivation. The only legume that is grown more than chickpeas is soybeans. Chickpeas have long been popular especially in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, where they are commonly used in traditional recipes. But it is also consumed in the rest of the world. India is traditionally the largest producer of chickpeas, followed by Australia and Thailand. In Europe, the largest producers are Turkey and Russia, but it is also grown in our country.
Chickpeas and ecology
Chickpeas can be a delight for both farmers and gardeners, as they bring a number of benefits to the environment. First, the chickpea plant helps enrich the soil with nitrogen. This is thanks to special bacteria that live along the roots of the plant. These bacteria are able to convert atmospheric nitrogen into the form that plants need to thrive.
The deep roots of chickpea plants also help to stabilize the soil around them, reducing the possibility of erosion. In addition, they secrete malic acid from their leaves and stems. This organic acid is a natural insecticide, so most insects, including pests, stay away from where it grows.
As we have seen, there are many ways to enjoy the humble chickpea. Add to that the long list of health benefits, and it’s no wonder its popularity is on the rise worldwide. If we look at Google Trends, we will find that the number of worldwide searches for chickpeas has been steadily increasing for many years.