Chickpeas, scientifically known by the name Cicerarietinum, belong to the legume family and have been around for thousands of years in Asian countries. Chickpeas are the seeds of the plant belonging to the pea family (Fabaceae). They are grown for the nutritious seeds of the plant. This type of legume has a rich nutty taste, which gives off an earthy texture. Also, the texture of the chickpeas is very grainy – which is why it pairs well with numerous other ingredients.
A Brief Look at Chickpeas
Chickpeas are round and have a peculiar beige color that distinguishes them from the other family members. Some of the varieties of chickpeas also come in black, red, or even green.
Chickpeas are widely known for being rich in vitamins, fiber, and minerals. They are considered a prime source of protein, which is why chickpeas form a major foundation of numerous vegan recipes. For those who prefer vegan food, adding chickpeas to dishes is easily equivalent to replacing meat in the meals. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines by the USA’s government, consuming a cup of chickpeas is sufficient to fulfill an adult’s daily protein needs.
Are Chickpeas and Garbanzo Beans Same?
If you have heard about both of these terms but never knew they are two different terms of the same thing, you are not alone. A fairly common misconception about garbanzo beans and chickpeas is that they are different. However, they are not – they are the names of the same type of legumes. So, the next time you find yourself perplexed in the legumes section, wondering what on earth garbanzo beans are, if not chickpeas, then know that they are the same.
Garbanzo is a term derived from Spanish and is less commonly used by the grocers and food experts as its American counterpart, chickpeas, is more well-known and commonly used.
Types of Chickpeas
There are several different varieties of chickpeas plant. You might not be able to find all these varieties in the grocery store near you as these are found globally in different regions of the world. Here are the most common global varieties of chickpeas:
This variant of the chickpeas we know has a very thin skin. They can be easily spotted in various American grocery stores. Moreover, they have a mild nutty flavor and a creamy texture.
Desi chickpeas are smaller and have a darker yellow flesh compared to other chickpeas. This is the most widely popular variety of chickpeas. Their seed coat is thicker and more nutritious than the Kabuli ones.
This variety encompasses younger chickpeas and gives off a sweet flavor instead. They taste more like peas than chickpeas.
Guide to Buying Chickpeas
There are three options available when buying chickpeas. Now, selecting a specific type depends on the kind of meal you will prepare with this ingredient. This guide to chickpeas also covers how to cook them, so make sure to read along till the end.
1. Dried Chickpeas
One of the most common forms you can find chickpeas in is the dried form. They are present in the bulk section of the store and are packed in airtight containers. This means you can store them up for about a year. However, storing them for a long time results in moisture loss. Therefore, the longer you store them, the longer they will take to cook.
2. Canned Chickpeas
These are pre-cooked canned chickpeas for your convenience of the easiest cooking. You can use them straight out of the can, and voila! You are done for the day – no more soaking or boiling the chickpeas first. However, these pre-cooked and canned chickpeas are loaded with salt as sodium is added during processing. When using the canned ones, give them a little rinse before adding to any meal.
3. Chickpea Flour
This is another form of chickpeas that is available across many stores. Several Indian and Italian dishes require chickpea flour to be added into curries and various kinds of pasta.
A Guide to Cooking Chickpeas
Ways to Cook Dried Chickpeas
You can cook your dried chickpeas in the following four ways:
- You can opt for a long soaking time – say about 8-12 hours or overnight – and get your cooking time up to 2 hours.
- You can also cut down the lengthy soaking time and start by giving your dried chickpeas a boil in a large container filled with water for about 5 minutes. Following this, you can soak your chickpeas for an hour and then put them on the stovetop to simmer for 2 hours.
- You can cook the dried chickpeas in the slow cooker. Soaking the chickpeas is not a prerequisite in this method. You have to put them in the slow cooker for about 4 hours on high heat or for double the time if you cook on low heat.
- You can even use your instant pot or pressure cooker for cooking them. This method also requires no soaking. The chickpeas are cooked in about an hour using this method.
Roasting the Dried Chickpeas
- Wash the chickpeas before roasting them in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204° C).
- Rinse off any extra water from the chickpeas and pat dry with a kitchen towel to dry them off completely.
- Toss the chickpeas in a little bit of oil and spices that you prefer.
- Grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil.
- Spread the chickpeas on the sheet and roast them for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- They should turn out lightly browned with a crispy look.
Important Cooking Tip
Cooking chickpeas creates a lot of foam that floats to the surface of the water. It is advised to get rid of the foam when cooking in a pressure cooker by quickly releasing some steam. Incidents of foam turning into steam and causing a great nuisance around the kitchen, along with often hurting people, are very common.
Cooking Canned Chickpeas
Canned chickpeas are almost entirely pre-cooked, so you can easily open the can and pour some garbanzo beans directly into your salad. You can also add these to soups to enhance their taste and texture. Moreover, pop the canned chickpeas in the microwave with your favorite spices and have a deliciously healthy bowl of protein-rich chickpeas ready within minutes.
Nutritional Profile of the Chickpeas
Chickpeas contain a medium of fairly moderate amounts of calories. For every 1-ounce serving of the chickpeas, you can get about 46 calories – which are majorly drawn from carbs. The remaining calories come from protein and some fat.
Chickpeas are also extensively rich in numerous vitamins and minerals along with a considerable amount of fiber and protein. For every cup of chickpeas, you will get:
- 269 calories
- 45 grams of carbohydrates
- 12 grams of fiber, which makes up about half of the Daily Recommended Value (DV)
- 15 grams of protein
- 4 grams of fat
- You can also fulfill about 71% of the DV of folate from a cup of chickpeas. Folate is a water-soluble vitamin (vitamin B9) that helps construct RNA and DNA while also being beneficial for metabolizing the amino acids.
- About 28% of the DV of Phosphorus, which is an essential mineral. It pairs up with calcium and works for a healthy set of teeth and bone structure.
- 26% of the Daily Value of Iron, which is a fundamental component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the essential foundation of building up red blood cells and plays a critical role in the transportation of oxygen throughout the body.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
1. Helps in Keeping Appetite under Control
Protein and fiber are the two main components in chickpeas that have documented effects on digestion. It is found that these two components slow down digestion, thus sending a signal to your brain that there is no need to be hungry. Research has shown that these protein and fiber-rich chickpeas have a filling effect on our body, resulting in a decreased calorie intake all day.
2. An Excellent Source of Plant-Based Protein
One of the topmost benefits of chickpeas is the quality of providing plant-based protein. This quality makes chickpeas the most favorite and suitable substitute for meat in various vegan dishes. Studies have revealed that the quality of protein in chickpeas is better than in any other legumes, as chickpeas contain various amino acids.
3. Aids in Regulating Blood Sugar
Chickpeas have proved to be very beneficial in regulating blood sugar. It is mostly because they have a low glycemic index (GI), which indicates that consuming chickpeas will not result in a spiked sugar level in your body. Thus, consuming them is considered safe for diabetic people.
The fiber in these legumes is well-known for decreasing the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood. This results in a slow and gradual increase in the blood sugar level after consuming a meal. Thus, people with type-2 diabetes are advised to consume foods like chickpeas to curb their blood sugar levels.
So, Chickpeas it is For a Healthy Diet?
The answer is YES! You can create many delicious dishes and dips using chickpeas, including hummus and falafel. Therefore, we can easily say that chickpeas are one of the best choices for healthy living. They reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and reduce weight as fiber and protein help decrease digestion. What else could one ask for in their bowl of healthy food?