The chickpea is a very versatile vegetable present in the resourceful Oriental kitchen. It is a vegetable rich in protein and perfectly fit to be a meal by itself for anybody tempted by a vegan diet.
The chickpea has originated from the Middle East and it has been around since 3000 BC in the Mediterranean area. From here the chickpea spread all over Ethiopia and India. The chickpea was consumed by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians and later it was brought to Europe by Spanish and Portuguese explorers.
The chickpea is rich in fibers, protein, mineral salts like phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc and manganese. Due to its high protein concentration (over 24%) and the fact that it has a high carbohydrates content, the chickpea is a perfect replacement for meat in the vegan kitchen.
Another quality of the chickpea is its slightly sweet taste resembling the walnuts and also its unctuous, very nutritious texture that can easily be mashed into a paste. Part of the famous Middle Orient and Indian cuisine, the chickpea is surely a vegetable everybody loves.
This vegetable is certainly a very versatile one. You can find it cooked in combination with rice, vegetables or pasta. The chickpea is the signature ingredient of the notorious hummus – the spread pasta made from it in combination with olive oil, garlic, tahini (sesame paste) and lemon juice. The Italian cuisine adopted the chickpea combining it with pasta, fresh oregano, Feta cheese and olive oil.
The chickpea can be used raw in many types of dishes like salads. As a snack, the chickpea can be roasted the same way as any nuts with spices and herbs that amplify its nutty taste.
When it is boiled or used inside soups, the chickpea enriches the texture and the taste of the dish contributing to its nutritional value.
The grinded chickpea is used as flour or base for many dishes. The chickpea flour comes from cooked chickpea and not from the raw ones because it would be too hard to digest.
Generally we can find chickpea dried or canned. When bought dry, the package must be intact and you should be careful so you won’t get vegetables infested by insects. The healthy chickpea is the one with the beans not cracked or damaged in any way.
You should store the chickpea inside an airtight container and never mix two different packs you buy. They can have different rates of drying and if you mix them they won’t cook evenly.