Chickpeas have been around for thousands of years. Since then, they have gone by many names. You might know them as Indian peas, Garbanzo beans, Ceci, or some name we have failed to mention here.
Chickpeas are a favored ingredient in various regions around the world. Don’t let the name “Indian beans” fool you; Jewish, Italian, and Philippine cuisines see heavy use of chickpeas in many of their respective dishes and recipes.
If you haven’t had or heard about chickpeas before, you might be wondering what exactly these things are. Many people do not realize that garbanzo beans and chickpeas are the same things. Chickpeas are of the legume family, they are a key ingredient to many things, ranging from spices to soups. Chickpeas are highly regarded and have so many uses in the kitchen because of how they taste.
What do chickpeas taste like? Chickpeas have an ordinary boring look to them, but they have a taste that can suit any palate. Chickpeas have that beanie flavor, just like every other food from the legume family, but they also have a nutty flavor accompanied by earthy notes. The taste of chickpeas is best compared with pinto beans and cannellini, it lasts for a long period on the tongue.
The taste of chickpeas can differ, depending on the cooking method used. Chickpeas have a flavor that is not too overbearing, so they pair very well with other food items. When they are mashed, they have a soft grainy texture that isn’t too different from mashed potatoes. They are not only versatile in the kitchen, but they also have a whole lot of nutritional benefits.
Nutritional Benefits of Chickpeas
The nutrition profile of chickpeas is very impressive. They are well stocked with minerals that are essential for healthy living, they also serve as a means to introduce vitamins and many other micronutrients.
Chickpeas are a good source of plant protein. For vegetarians, it is a great addition to their green diet. A cup of chickpeas can provide protein equivalent to about one-third of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein in adults. Protein is one of the essential nutrients that the body needs because it plays a big role in bodybuilding. It is necessary for skin, bone, and muscle health and development.
A cup of chickpeas weighs 164 grams, 12.5 grams of that is fiber. The American Diabetes Association recommends chickpeas as a source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is important in the body. A study carried out in 2014 showed that eating at least 30 grams of fiber every day can help reduce inflammation in people with type 1 diabetes. A high fiber diet can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels.
To prevent high blood pressure which is a prevailing healthy concern today, medical experts and guidelines recommend that reducing sodium intake and increasing the intake of potassium can help keep blood pressure at regular levels. Chickpeas are a good source of potassium, as long as you stay away from canned chickpeas; which have high levels of sodium, chickpeas are a healthy choice when trying to keep blood pressure under control.
They contain all the minerals necessary to help improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis. It also contains selenium, a compound whose antioxidant activities in the body can help reduce the risk of a whole lot of diseases including certain kinds of cancer.
There is evidence to support the claim that chickpeas may be able to help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer due to their high fiber content. Chickpeas have a lot of health benefits that include weight management, metabolism, mental health, anemia(by eliminating iron deficiency), and reduction of cholesterol levels.
Culinary Uses of Chickpeas
Chickpeas can be enjoyed raw (straight from the can), eaten roasted, or cooked. They are always available dried or in cans. The process of cooking chickpeas varies as the cooking time is dependent on how you decide to cook the chickpeas. It is also worth mentioning that dried chickpeas will triple in size when you cook them.
Chickpeas are key ingredients in falafel, masala, and hummus. If you are familiar with any of the aforementioned food items, you are already familiar with chickpeas. You just don’t know it. Cooked chickpeas make a great addition to salads, and they are a great replacement for kidney beans in chili recipes.
Chickpeas can be eaten simply, you can roast them on an open fire, season them with spices, and enjoy them like a snack. They also make a great addition to soups and stews.
What is the Origin of Chickpeas? How to Procure Them?
The word “chickpea” was formerly known as “chiche pease”. It was modeled on Middle French pois chiche which comes from the Latin word Cicer. The word “Chich” was also used in English from the 14th to 18th century.
Chickpeas are believed to have been domesticated from a wild progenitor (Cicer reticulatum) which now grows only in Turkey. Chickpeas were domesticated in Turkey before they spread to the Mediterranean region in 6000 BC and later to India about 3000 years later.
Chickpeas are so old that some found in Southern France have been carbon-dated to 6790 BC. Some remains found in the Middle East have also been carbon-dated and expected to be over 9500 years old.
In 1793, a German writer took note of roasted chickpeas being used as a replacement for coffee. During the first world war, it is believed that chickpeas were cultivated in Germany for this exact purpose.
As of 2019, 70 percent of the world’s chickpeas come from India. Chickpeas are not hard to procure, you can get them in Indian shops or specialty stores.
What is Bad About Chickpeas?
There is really no bad thing to say about chickpeas, just don’t eat them raw. You can eat canned chickpeas without cooking them, but canned chickpeas are very different from raw chickpeas. Raw chickpeas contain toxins and substances that the body finds difficult to digest. The complex sugars in raw chickpeas are also hard to digest and can lead to intestinal gas and other discomforts.
Facts You Don’t Know About Chickpeas
- Chickpeas are well known for their ability to make people fart. This can be attributed to their high fiber content. This shouldn’t be a reason why you should avoid them entirely because they make a great addition to your diet.
- The scientific name for chickpea is Cicer arietinum.