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For the Love of Chickpeas

A history and why they are my obsession

By Kathryn WickerPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 6 min read
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For the Love of Chickpeas
Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash

I love chickpeas. I mean, I LOVE CHICKPEAS! Yes, I was yelling that from the mountaintop or at least from my second floor bedroom. Tori Avey gives lots of information about the chickpea, chick pea or as we called it in Spain: garbanzo bean. And Spain was the first place I had ever had a chickpea! I lived there starting in 1985 through June of 1986, before that my family in Ohio had never exposed me to their incredible flavors! My family ate adventurously for the area and time period, but never had any type of beans.

I have to admit that I have in my cupboard probably 20 or more pounds of dried garbanzos (they get their own 5 gallon tub), 100 cans of chickpeas which may seem excessive but Hanover Foods outlet was selling their canned chickpeas for $.10 each and so you could get 12 for $1.20 - yes, I bought 10 dozen. Some were organic and salt free and some were just low sodium, but for that price and already canned - I had no choice. I had to stockpile as it was during the spring of 2020 and we know how that spring was! And I've added to them as the years go on - so I hover around 10 dozen cans.

From Hanover Foods website - a great company that is local!

According to ThoughtCo: chickpeas are the second most widely grown legume. What is number 1? Yes, the very popular soybean. But chickpeas are only wild still in southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria. ThoughtCo thinks that it was domesticated in that area over 11,000 years ago. And in the domestication they brought nearly twice the levels of tryptophan into that small little chickpea - and as we should know - tryptophan helps with better brains, higher birth rates and accelerated grown in both humans and animals. There are two main types of chickpeas after being domesticated throughout the Middle East and into India: desi and kabuli.

And not only those two main types - but every culture seems to have names for them! As I said, Spain called them garbanzo beans, we here in the US call them chickpeas. Indian food has them labeled as chana (so now you know that anything labeled chana has chickpeas in it -- the same as anything with the word gobi is cauliflower). Italy calls them the ceci bean and Egypt just calls them peas or the Bengal gram. And Chana Dal is when you remove the seed coat from the desi chickpea and split it in half! I love Chana Dal - I have those lovely split desi chickpeas in everything.

Picture from My Favourite Pastime: Everything you wanted to know about Chickpea https://myfavouritepastime.com/2017/08/24/chickpeas/

Anyway, back to the history of the chickpea as it is amazing - there are remains of chickpeas found that are 7,500 years old in Turkey! “Domesticated chickpeas have been found at several early archaeological sites, including the Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites of Tell el-Kerkh (ca. 8,000 BC)(ThoughtCo). Charlemagne talked about chickpeas and how they were grown in 800 AD. And I didn’t know that in 1793 a German writer used chickpeas as a substitute for coffee and during World War I, Germany did that again! As I HATE coffee, I will not be trying that use of a chickpea.

Now this is up D. Thea Baldrick’s alley - but the chickpea is of the “Kingdom Plantae, Division Magnoliophyta, Class Magnoliopsida, Order Fabales, Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae (the legume, pea, and pulse family), and Genus Cicer” (Avery).They published a first draft of the entire genome of both of the two domesticated types (desi and kabuli) in 2013. Chickpeas have protein and piles of fiber. As a vegan I want my protein and fiber to be about equal in my beans. They are also known to have a low glycemic index which is great for improving blood sugar levels. They are rich in copper, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, manganese and as I said - FIBER!

By engin akyurt on Unsplash

And this frightens me: chickpeas are threatened by a dual threat of climate change and our desire to breed them so the seed remained with the plant so we lowered its genetic diversity. Thankfully, scientists are working on it and since 20% of the world depends on chickpeas for protein - it is crucial that they continue to work on it. The publication of the genome in 2013 has let them identify 187 disease resistance genes which sounds like a lot to me, but apparently it is fewer than any other legume species out there (ThoughtCo).

Uses of Chickpeas

1. Hummus. We all know and love this one! I use my own canned chickpeas that I pressure canned with lemon juice, water, garlic cloves and toasted sesame seeds. (Pressure canning recipe came from Rebecca Lindamood's Not Your Mama's Canning Book: Modern Canned Goods and What to Make with Them.) I sometimes mix it with the Ball's Red Pepper sauce that I canned to get a sweet red pepper hummus or I roast a head or two of garlic to make my own garlic roasted. I quite often add one of those canned from Hanover to stretch it out to last a week or two since I love hummus toast for breakfast and use it on sandwiches as my healthy mayo! I use tahini with it but avoid olive oil since I like my food whole. I do sometimes throw a few olives into the food processor for an olivy hummus. It is so easy to make yourself! And hummus can be used everywhere!

2. Add them to pasta sauce or rice - instant health and oh so delicious! This stands by itself - a chickpea adds protein and fiber to any pasta dish.

3. Chickpea pot pie: vegan pot pie recipe. I make my own but there are piles of recipes out there for this! I use a topping that is more a fat-free biscuit using baking powder. But From My Bowl (Caitlin Shoemaker) has a great recipe too that is more traditional!

4. Chickpea salad - I swear you put chickpeas and mash some of them and add vegetables like chopped carrots, celery, onion and cucumber and then add a vegan mayo or a tahini sauce or even hummus - you can eat it in a sandwich - it makes the best sandwich filling! I gave a link to one recipe but where they use dill - I admit I use olives!

5. I roast my chickpeas without oil by not rinsing them. The aquafaba (chickpea water) helps hold on the spices. I use chili lime from Trader Joe's or my own roasted garlic (diced garlic) and rosemary that I pulse in my spice blender and add just a bit of salt. I add them salads, my own version of Chex Mix and even just for snacking.

By engin akyurt on Unsplash

6. Aquafaba - the drained water from your chickpea can or from when you make chickpeas. It can be used in everything from vegan meringues to nougats and fudges. You beat it enough it replaces egg whites perfectly! I learned about this on a season of the British Baking Show! And I haven't gone back to other egg substitutes (except for the glorious flax seed egg).

7. Falafel - this needs its own article. I absolutely LOVE falafel. I make my own and use them in sandwiches and on top of salad. And I do not fry my falafel - I simply bake it in the oven. Still so delicious with the parsley and cilantro mixed in with the onion and garlic into the food processor!

By Anton on Unsplash

8. Soups, salads and an addition to anything you can make!

Green beans, cauliflower and chickpeas steamed in broth and served over black bean and corn quinoa and wild rice... oh so delcious and healthy!

So on my plant based journey I am searching for more and more foods that can be used to help me achieve my weight loss goals. I am still abiding by my rules and eating plant based vegan with some vegan fast food added to it! I want to be healthy this year and the best way to do it is with food. So chickpeas are a necessary addition to my diet! Comment if you want any of my versions of my recipes.

Avey, T. (2019, July 29). The History, Science, and Uses of Chickpeas. Tori Avey. https://toriavey.com/the-history-science-and-uses-of-chickpeas/

Liz, V. A. P. B. (2018, April 26). All you wanted to know about Chickpea. My Favourite Pastime. https://myfavouritepastime.com/2017/08/24/chickpeas/

The Domestication History of Chickpeas. (2019, May 30). ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-domestication-history-of-chickpeas-170654

healthyhistoryvegan
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About the Creator

Kathryn Wicker

I write, I read, I cook, I preserve, I strive to be my best at them all. But, writing, cooking and preserving are all works in progress - just like life. I've got the reading down pat except for the lack of time.

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