What are Chickpeas?
Chickpeas (also called garbanzo gram or Bengal gram) belong to the legume family. It has been grown in Africa, the Middle East and India for centuries as a dry pulse or green vegetables. It is one of the most essential food legume plants in a sustainable agriculture system because of its low production cost, broader adaptation, ability to ﬁx atmospheric nitrogen and ﬁt in various crop rotations. Chickpeas have a round shape with pointed ends and are creamy or cloudy yellow.
How do Chickpeas Taste Like?
Chickpeas have the classic beany flavor like other members of the legume family. Apart from that, it has a slightly nutty and savory aftertaste, somewhat similar to cannellini and pinto beans. But chickpeas still taste mild enough to be paired with any food item and still be delicious. As for the texture, chickpeas are creamy but subtly grainy, sort of like cooked potatoes. Many cuisines use chickpeas in salads, soups--even sandwiches. They're also the main ingredient in hummus, a dip made with mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic (my favorite!).
What are the Health Benefits of Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are also an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, their highest nutritional composition. Chickpeas are also free from anti-nutritive components than any other dry edible grain legumes. According to the USDA, chickpeas contain fiber (7.1 g / 100g), protein (8.23 g / 100g), vitamin E (1.09 mg / 100g), and vitamin B4 (3.98 mg / 100g). They are also rich in minerals (phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc) and contain carotenoids--pigments known for their anti-aging, antioxidant benefits.
That's why some consider chickpeas as a "functional food." Chickpeas consumption is reported to have some physiologic benefits that may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and improve heart health. Due to their high fiber and protein content, chickpeas are excellent for weight loss diets because they keep you fuller longer and control your appetite. For example, a study found a reduction of 29-36% in blood glucose concentration after chickpeas consumption. Moreover, the soluble fiber in chickpeas helps slow the rise of blood sugar after meals. It helps lower blood cholesterol levels by its action in the gut. In the NHANES 2003–2010 dataset, chickpeas/hummus consumers were 53% less likely to be obese and 51% less likely to have an elevated glucose level.
How to Buy Chickpeas
You can purchase chickpeas dried, frozen or canned (pre-cooked). The great thing about canned or jarred chickpeas is that they can be used straight from the can to be sprinkled on salads, reheated, or used in recipes like hummus. If you are working with dried (raw) chickpeas, here's how you can cook them: (1) First, sort through the chickpeas to remove any stones or ones that look discolored. (2) Soak them in water for 8-10 hours or overnight inside a bowl (using plenty of water as they will swell as they soak). TIP: You can also add baking soda (1 tbsp / per 500 g dried chickpeas), which facilitates the soaking process by helping the chickpeas' outer skin of the chickpeas soften and allow it to rehydrate better. This article even says that baking soda is the secret ingredient to making extra creamy hummus! (3) Rinse the soaked chickpeas with fresh water and boil for ___ until tender.
How to Cook Chickpeas Faster
If you suddenly get urges to eat chickpeas and don't have the patience to wait 8-10 hours to soak them, here's a way you can get your chickpea fix faster 🙂
(1) Put your chickpeas into a saucepan, cover them with plenty of water, add 1 tbsp baking soda, and boil them for 1 minute. (2) After boiling, turn off the heat and leave the chickpeas to soak for 1 hour. (3) Rinse and boil, as before.
How to Store Cooked Chickpeas
You should seal the cooked chickpeas in an airtight container or Ziploc after draining the excess liquid. The cooked chickpeas will keep about 3-4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze them to make them stay longer for future use. TIP: Pat the cooked chickpeas with paper towels to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Spread the chickpeas in a large Ziploc bag in a single layer, then—freeze, laying the single flat layer down to keep the beans from freezing in a clump. Frozen chickpeas can keep in the freezer for up to 1 year.
How to Store Aquafaba
If you want to store chickpea liquid (a.k.a. aquafaba): leave it to cool entirely, transfer it to an airtight container. You can keep the aquafaba in the fridge for up to two weeks. Feel free to use this liquid as a vegan egg replacer and whip it into beautiful white peaks.