Have you ever wondered what that little beige bean towards the back of the salad bar that no one ever eat is? It is a Chickpea, also known as a Garbanzo bean. It is one of the oldest harvested legumes. According to Wikipedia, 7,500 year old traces of the bean have been found in the Middle East.
There are three different kinds of chickpeas: Desi, Bombay, and Kabuli. Desi are small and dark and have a rough covering. Desi chickpeas are mainly grown in India as well as Iran. Bombay Chickpeas are also dark and just a bit bigger than the Desi and are popular in India as well. Kabuli Chickpeas are lighter in color and have a softer covering then the Desi. This type of chickpea is grown in the Mediterranean. It is believed that the Kabuli was first grown in Kabul in Afghanistan The rare black chickpea is bigger and darker than the Desi and is only grown in Apulia which is in Southeast Italy.
Chickpeas have a lovely nutty taste and a buttery texture, and are a well known component in Italian, Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, Spanish and Portuguese cuisines. Chickpeas are used to make dishes such as hummus, falafel, and curries. They are used cold in tapas dishes in Spain, and with pasta in Italy. In Asian cuisine chickpeas are eaten as sweets or desserts in the Philippines.
You can buy chickpeas either dried or canned like other beans, but I have found that finding them dried is a little harder in small rural areas.
There are endless ways to use chickpeas in your daily diet. You can use them in salads, stews, and also ground into a flour. The flour can be used to coat vegetables for frying and also to make certain kinds of Mediterranean flatbreads such as Socca. Some kinds of chickpeas can be popped like Popcorn! Maybe something new to try on family movie night. My favorite uses for chickpeas are falafel and hummus.
Chickpeas are high in protein and iron. They are also a heart healthy food which can help lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and your overall cholesterol if eaten as a regular part of your diet. Chickpeas can also aid in weight loss due to being high in fiber and having a low Glycemic Index which helps control blood sugar levels. Chickpeas are a great way to get the mineral manganese in to your diet. Manganese helps aid the body in energy production. According to NaturalFoodBenefits.com, just one cup of garbanzo beans supplies 84.5% of the daily value for this mineral. Medicalnewstoday.com states that one cup of cooked chickpeas contain 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of fat and 0 grams of cholesterol.
So now that you know more about the chickpea and the advantages of adding it your diet, maybe you won’t skip over it the next time you visit your favorite salad bar. Also try the following recipes and you may find a new favorite food to share with your friends and family: