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The Great Garbanzo: Chickpeas




Giora Shimoni

Kosher Cooking with Chickpeas:

As a pareve source of protein, chickpeas are a valued ingredient in kosher cooking. Sephardic Jews have long cooked with chickpeas. In Israel, as in other Middle Eastern countries, the beans are popularly used for dishes like hummus and falafal. Ashkenazi Jews traditionally serve chickpeas at the Shalom Zachar celebration for baby boys, and they have recently started to add chickpeas to stews, soups and salads to enrich flavor and raise protein levels.

Chickpeas in a Nutshell:

Chickpeas are edible legumes. There are two main types of chickpeas. Desi are small, angular seeds, which may be yellow, green, light brown or even black in color. Kabuli are larger, more rounded seeds that are beige in color. Chickpeas, which are high in protein, have been popular in the Middle East, North Africa, India and Mediterranean countries, and are growing in popularity in North America.

Other Names:

Chickpea (English), Garbanzo (Spanish), Bengal Gram (Indian), Hummus (Hebrew), Hamaz (Arabic), Cicer Arietinum (Latin, Botanical)

Chickpea Trivia:

In ancient Rome where the chickpea was highly valued, the leader Cicero proudly claimed his name derived from cicer, the Latin term for chickpea. It is believed that one of Cicero’s ancestors was named Cicero because he had a wart on his nose that looked like a chickpea.


It is believed that the chickpea originated in Turkey. The plant is 20 to 50 centimeters high, with small leaves on both sides of the stem. Each seedpod contains two or three peas. The flowers are white or reddish-blue. Garbanzo beans need a subtropical or tropical climate and more than 400 mm annual rain.

Buying and Storing:

Chickpeas are a practical food to keep in storage as they are a versatile source of protein. The beans are available year-round in canned or dried form. Canned chickpeas last for up to five years, and dried chickpeas can be stored, in an airtight container, almost indefinitely. Once cooked, chickpeas can be stored covered in the refrigerator for several days.


Before using dried chickpeas in a recipe, soak in cold water for 12 hours and then pressure-cook for 20-25 minutes or boil, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. After soaking and cooking, chickpeas more than double in size. Dried chickpeas can also be roasted as a snack or ground into flour.


In Indian cuisine, dried chickpeas are often ground into a flour called gram flour (also known as besan). Dried chickpeas can be roasted, spiced and eaten as a snack. Cooked and mashed chickpeas can be shaped into balls and fried as falafel, mixed with oil and spices to make hummus, or stirred into a batter and baked to make farinata. Cooked, whole chickpeas can be added to salads, soups and stews.


1 cup (240g) of canned chickpeas contain:
Calories: 286
Protein: 11.8g
Carbohydrate: 54.3g
Total Fat: 2.7g
Fiber: 10.5g
Chickpeas are an excellent source of folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and zinc.
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