Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo Beans are one of the earliest cultivated legumes. Over 7,000 year old remains of chickpeas have been found in the Middle East. They are very versatile and hundreds of incredibly tasty dishes have been created using them.
Often they are served as a vegetarian dish but go equally well with meat.
TIPS FOR MEASURING AND COOKING CHICKPEAS
After struggling to understand how many I had to use in a given recipe I went about measuring the dried and cooked product to give myself some rough guidelines. This is what I came up with:
1 x small can ( 400g or 15 oz ) beans = ¾ cup dried beans = 125g dried beans
Dried beans swell up once soaked to 2 ½ times the amount.
NEVER STOP RINSING
Many people complain about getting a lot of wind (gas) after eating chickpeas. The Turks religiously rinse pulses many, many times.
I soak my chickpeas overnight and then I will double rinse them before I cook them. I know that one of my Turkish friends will stop the cooking process midway to rinse again and then begin the boiling process all over again.
This is a real pain when pressure cooking so I do not go to that extreme, but I cannot emphasize enough that the more they are rinsed in fresh water and not sitting in their gaseous juices, the better.
If any scum appears on the top of the pot, scrape it away.
SALT AND SPICES
Never add salt to any legumes or pulses before they are completely cooked. Salt inhibits the cooking process and the chickpeas will never completely soften.
Some people like to add certain spices which they believe reduce gas.
These include ginger root, roasted cumin seeds or fennel seeds.
This may however add a slightly Indian flavour to the end product which may not be the desired outcome.
HOW TO COOK, PREPARE AND STORE CHICKPEAS
I always soak my beans overnight and if the weather is cool then I might choose to soak them even longer. 24 hours is ideal but if it is hot, and your home is not air conditioned (like my boat!) they can go off. If I soak them 24 hours, I will rinse them twice in this period.
If you are short of time, the soaking time can be reduced by firstly pouring boiling water on the chickpeas and leaving them to soak till they are cold. Repeat this and they will have had enough of a decent soaking within a few hours.
However, the longer they are soaked the better off as they are more easily digested. The cooking time later will be reduced also.
If you plan on crushing or blending the chickpeas ( for instance, when making hummus) then a teaspoon of bicarb soda placed in the soaking water and another teaspoon, later in the water in which they are boiled, will make them soften faster and you will get a smoother blend to your pureed peas.
I tend to cook up 1/2 kg of chickpeas at a time to save on time and gas. (We don’t have the luxury of gas bottle delivery so the less often I need to change over the bottles, the better!)
I then usually freeze half of what I have cooked and use the other immediately if I am having guests.
If there are only two of you then 250g of chickpeas cooked up might be a better way to go. Especially if freezer space is critical. This will still give you a meal straight away and some to freeze for one more main meal for two people.
I prefer to use a pressure cooker for all my legumes as they can take a fair amount of time to cook and living in a hot climate, my galley heats up too quickly if I have to have the stove on for long.
- Place chickpeas in pressure cooker
- Fill pressure cooker with water so that there is 5 centimetres of water above the chickpeas
- Secure lid and put heat on full
- Once the cooker comes under pressure turn down heat to medium low
- Cook for 20 minutes under pressure then turn off heat
- Wait for pressure valve to drop slowly. This can take 10 minutes or so.
- Open cooker once pressure valve has dropped back down
- Check for doneness - Squeeze a chickpea and see if it can be squashed between your fingers
- If done, then the chickpeas are ready to be used in your ongoing recipe.
- If not done, close pressure cooked, put on high heat
- Keep under pressure for another 8 minutes.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, then cover the chickpeas with plenty of water and bring to a rapid boil. Leave the boiling hard for 10 minutes and then drop it down to a simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes. Test a chickpea to see if they are done.
- Soak chickpeas overnight in plenty of water
- Drain the chickpeas, rinse very well and place them in a pot
- Cover them with water and have about 5 cm extra water above
- Turn heat on high and bring to boil
- Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and leave for 30 to 40 minutes
- Depending on freshness will determine how long they take.
- To test, spoon out a chickpea and run under cold water and try to squash it between your fingers.
- Once it easily squashes they are ready to be used in any recipe and salt can now be added
To cook using a pressure cooker, cover them well with water. A pressure cooker should never be more than 2/3rds full so probably I have about 5 cm water above the legumes.
I bring the chickpeas to pressure then turn the pressure cooker down to a low heat and leave them bubbling away for around 20 minutes. I then turn off the cooker and leave it sitting on the stove to come down off pressure slowly. This can take another 10 minutes or so.
I always check they are soft. Take one between your thumb and finger and if it crushes easily then it is ready. Depending on the age of the chickpeas when you bought them will determine how long they will take to cook. If cooked, drain the chickpeas and rinse a few times.
At this point you may wish to continue on with a recipe or you might want to freeze them.
Once cool, I put them all into a plastic bag and place them in the freezer.
When I need some, it is just a matter of banging them on the kitchen counter a few times and they separate nicely and I can remove how much I want very easily.
Chickpea Nutritional Value
The great thing about chickpeas is that they are massively high in nutrients and in fact, even the leaves of the chickpea plant contain a higher mineral count than spinach or cabbage!
They are a nutrient-dense food and provide a large amount of protein, fibre, minerals such as iron, phosphorous, thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc and folate.
They say that they are a very welcome food when dealing with cholesterol issues and can improve blood sugar levels as well as insulin secretion.
There are two types of chickpeas and both are highly nutritious:
The most common are the white variety however the smaller, darker and more irregular shaped chickpeas actually contain more health benefits being power packed with antioxidants which are contained in the dark shell.
Lastly, there is little difference nutritionally between cooked and tinned beans. The canned variety is still a healthy option however the flavour is clearly not quite as good.
Click on the link if you would like to cook Claudia’s delicious Chickpea Piyazi