Chick peas--also known as garbanzo beans, or pois chiche in French. These fibre-filled legumes are a Canadian prairie mainstay. Chick peas are a mega staple food in Middle Eastern cuisine (humous anyone?), Mediterranean cuisine, North African cuisine, and South and Central Asian cuisine. Here in Canada, much of our chick peas are exported along with other legumes like lentils and soy.
Reminder: legume = the pods (and leaves and stems), pulse = the edible seed in side the pod
We are probably all aware that eating chick peas and other beans can cause...gastrointestinal distress...gas! (Cook beans thoroughly to reduce that effect!)
More on Chick Peas
Like green peas and other pulses, chick peas can be eaten raw, although seldom seen like that. The vast majority are either found dried or canned.
Don't forget about chick pea flour! It is essentially ground flour of dried chickpeas. It is also called chana, gram, or besan. Chickpea flour is often used in gluten free baking since it binds well. Chana flour is used worldwide in so many cuisines and cooking styles.
Beans are an excellent source of fibre and carbohydrates which our bodies need. For plants, they have a high protein content and are common in vegetarian and vegan cooking.
Food identity is so important to us and as mentioned, the chick pea is an absolute staple in the middle east. Have you heard about the humus wars? This has divided families!
Ways to Cook
Dried chick peas need to be fully soaked in plenty of fresh water overnight before cooking. Canned chick peas are already cooked and are swimming in their briny water. (The water in canned beans is "thick" or "slimy" because of the natural starches in beans.)
That slimy water in canned chick peas is called aqua fava or agua faba. The liquid brine can be used in vegan dishes to substitute eggs.
Cooking pulses takes a long time. They must not be crunchy but too mushy is unpleasant. Some exceptions are softer versions of lentils, or purposefully puréed beans such as in soups. Soaking beans in water and changing the water is important, as is stirring when cooking so that they cook evenly.
Dried chick peas last a long time in dry storage but keep in mind that the older they are, the longer they should soak and cook. If your dried chick peas are taking FOREVER to cook, try adding a pinch of baking soda to the water but don't add too much or use it for regular dried beans or the skins will come off.
We often simply boil chick peas in plain tap water but you could bump up a bit of flavour by adding a bay leaf, lemon peel, or garlic but keep in mind what other flavours you will be adding to the dish later on.
To peel or not to peel? Peeled chick peas can be luxurious especially since they make a velvety texture in hummus! Before you start--consider the time it takes! Also, what to do with the chick pea skins? (Season them up and roast them in the oven for a little scrap snack!)