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How to Cook and Serve Chickpeas

Chickpea stew
Chickpea Chana Masala with rice and roti

Chickpeas can be boiled, sauteed, roasted, and baked. They can be added to stews and turned into hummus. Chickpeas can be used in appetizers, mixed salads, and soups. The nutty flavor and creamy texture of the chickpea make it a robust and hearty addition to many dishes.

The chickpea is a staple in cookery throughout much of the world. It goes by many names: garbanzo bean in Spain, pois chiche in France, ceci in Italy, hummus in the Middle East, gram in India, and chickpea in the United States.

How to Choose Chickpeas

  • The immature green shell can be picked and eaten like a snap bean.
  • Choose pods that are young and tender.
  • For dry beans, harvest after plants mature and leaves have turned completely brown. Thresh the dry pods to remove the beans.

How to Store Chickpeas

  • Fresh chickpeas will keep unshelled in the refrigerator for one week. You can freeze, can, or dry shelled chickpeas.
  • Mature unshelled chickpeas can be dried on a cloth or plastic sheeting in the sun until the pods split.
  • Store dried, shelled chickpeas in a cool, dry place for 10 to12 months.
Chickpea salad with tomatoes and lambs lettuce (mache)

Many Ways Chickpeas Are Prepared

  • Fresh or dried chickpeas can be used like peas or beans in side dishes, soups, stews, dips, and vegetable curries. The chickpea has more texture than other legumes and does not fall apart as easily.
  • Gathered before their pods reach maturity, green pods and tender leaves are eaten as a green vegetable. The leaves can be cooked like spinach.
  • Chickpeas can be used with grains as a protein-rich substitute.
  • Split chickpeas are known as chana dal in India.
  • Mature chickpeas are canned in brine and used in salads in the United States and usually called garbanzo beans. 
  • Spanish cook garbanzo beans in stews such as cocido. The Mexicans cook garbanzo beans in similar hotpots called puchero and olla. Italians use ceci in minestrone soup. French use the chickpeas in gratins covered with Mornay sauce.
  • Chickpeas can be ground into “gram flour” and used in vegan cooking. 

Chickpea Cooking Suggestions

  • Shelled chickpeas can be steamed or boiled like peas or roasted like peanuts.
  • Whole chickpeas can be fried, roasted, and boiled.
  • Soak dried chickpeas for 12 to 16 hours before cooking. After soaking, boil chickpeas for 1 to 2½ hours.
  • Shelled chickpeas can be steamed or boiled like peas or roasted like peanuts. Whole dried seeds are used like dry peas or beans.
  • When cooking chickpeas in a pressure cooker, allow 20 to 25 minutes for soaked beans and 35 to 40 minutes for unsoaked beans.
Chickpeas in water
Dry raw chickpeas soaking in water before cooking

How to Prepare Dried Chickpeas for Cooking

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in water that covers the beans.
  2. Add ½ teaspoon baking soda for 2 cups dried beans.
  3. Next day drain and discard any imperfect beans.
  4. Wash and drain, cover with fresh water, then simmer covered until the beans are tender.
  5. Drain thoroughly. You are ready to cook.

How to Sauté Chickpeas

  1. Use drained cooked chickpea, about 3 cups.
  2. Add ½ stick of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add crushed garlic cloves to taste and sauté slowly.
  4. Add the chickpeas and cook very slowing shaking the pan often.
  5. Cook until the beans are golden and tender. 
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. Often served with rice pilaff.
Roasted chickpeas
Roasted spicy chickpeas with lime and rosemary

How to Roast Chickpeas

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil to lightly coat an ovenproof skillet or roasting pan.
  3. On the stovetop turn a burner to medium heat and heat the oil.
  4. When the oil is just hot add drained and cooked chickpeas and season with minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the chickpeas–just enough for one layer across the pan.
  6. Shake the pan so that the chickpeas are evenly coated with warm oil.
  7. Place the skillet or pan in the oven and cook until the chickpeas begin to brown, about 15 or 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and let them slightly cook; add olive oil or seasoning and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
  9. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Baked chickpeas with pita bread
Baked chickpeas with pita bread

How to Bake Chickpeas

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the following ingredients in a baking dish: 4 cups drained cooked chickpeas, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, 3 large tomatoes peeled, seeded, and chopped, 1 onion chopped, 1 clove of crushed chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and ½ cup olive oil.
  3. Bake 1 hour or until well blended.
Chickpea stew with bread
Chickpea stew with bread

How to Make Chickpea Vegetarian Stew

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Warm 4 cups of drained cooked chickpeas in a deep skillet turned to medium heat.
  3. Brown the chickpeas evenly about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the beans simmer once browned.
  4. In a separate pan, sauté in olive oil zucchini, peppers, eggplant, carrots, onions–or other vegetables–until the vegetables are softened, about 15 to 25 minutes.
  5. In another separate pan, sauté tomatoes and season with garlic, ginger, coriander, and cumin to taste. 
  6. Combine the vegetables with chickpeas in the deep skillet and transfer to the oven; roast until the mix is bubbly, about 10 minutes.
  7. Serve hot garnished with cilantro or fresh parsley leaves.
Hummus
Hummus garnished with chickpeas, red sweet pepper, parsley, and olive oil

How to Make Hummus

  • Chickpeas are the main ingredient of hummus, the thick sauce usually served as a dip with pieces of pita.
  1. Grind boiled chickpeas into a paste or use a sieve or food mill.
  2. Add olive or sesame oil and lemon juice alternately a little at a time, tasting for flavor as you go.
  3. Add crushed garlic and salt to taste.
  4. Add any of the above as you check for seasoning and flavor.
  5. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
  • Eat hummus on pita bread or crackers.

Chickpea Nutrition

  • Chickpeas are high in energy content (361 calories per 100 grams) rich in carbohydrates, proteins, phosphorus, calcium, and iron.
  • The protein content of the chickpea is about 20 percent. It is an important meat substitute.

 

Chickpeas in garden
Chickpeas in garden

Get to Know Chickpeas

  • The chickpea is a bushy, upright plant with compound leaves that are covered with sticky hairs. Chickpea pods are puffy and grow to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and contain one or two buff-colored seeds. Each seed has a small “beak” at its tip hence the common name chickpea.
  • The chickpea requires at least 100 days of warm dry weather to mature. It is often cultivated in subtropical and Mediterranean climates as a cool-season crop. In temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, it comes to harvest with other shell beans in late summer and early fall.
  • The chickpea is native to the northern regions of the Fertile Crescent from southern Europe to India. It was in cultivation at least 5,000 years ago in the Mediterranean region and 4,000 years ago in India. More than 80 percent of the chickpeas grown today are grown in India.
  • Cicer is the Latin word for “pea.” That became chiche in Old French and chick in Middle English. The tag “pea” in modern English is redundant.

The botanical name of the chickpea is Cicer arietinum.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Chickpeas

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4 Comments

  1. Can I prepare fresh chickpeas without drying them out..? I would like to leave them in their leafy shells and fry with lime juice and olive oil…is this possible..?
    Thanks for any help…Larry

  2. Hi Larry: Yes, you can preare the chickpeas fresh from the shell. You can sautee them in olive oil as you suggest or simmer them covered in boiling water until tender. Use your chickpeas fresh within 5 days or so, keep them in the vegetable crisper in the refrigerator until you cook them. Dried chickpeas should be soaked over night.

  3. I soaked dried chickpeas [intending to then boil and make hummus] but with a 2 year old I forgot, kept rinsing them [storing in fridge–made their way to the back cold part] and now they’ve sprouted. would they still be edible? maybe in a soup? ideas? Thanks!

  4. If they are free of mold they should be edible. Steaming is the quickest way to cook these before eating–and is suggested if you have more than a few to eat. See the article on Seed Sprouting for Eating. Perhaps some additional cooking suggestions will come from readers.

The End of September Harvest

Hummus Recipe