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.
Turkish Chick Pea Stew With Meat
- Peel and dice the onion and garlic as finely as you can. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together over high heat. Add the diced onion and reduce the heat to low. Gently fry it, stirring occassionally, until it softens and turns golden and translucent. Be careful not to let the onions burn.
- While the onion cooks, prepare your meat. Using a sharp knife, cut the meat into very small pieces. When the onion is cooked, add the meat. Turn it over as it cooks with a wooden spoon to allow it brown on all sides.
- Add the water, tomato paste, grated tomato and spices and stir the mixture until combined. Turn up the heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
- Drain the canned chick peas in a strainer and rinse them under cold water. Add them to the pan and gently stir them into the mixture. When the mixture is gently simmering, cover the pan and let continue to cook until the liquid is reduced, about 15 minutes.
- Serve a ladle of chick pea stew piping hot with Turkish-style rice pilaf or bulgur pilaf.