When you enjoy a delicious dish made with chickpeas, such as creamy hummus, a veggie burger, or an Indian chickpea curry, have you ever wondered what are chickpeas? If so, then you have come to the right place!
In this article, I'll provide all the information you need to prepare, season, and cook these nutrient-packed gems!
Chickpeas What Are They?
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans in some countries, are a pulse (the seed inside a pod) and are part of the legume family. They grow in colors varying from black, green, and red, with cream-beige and tan being the most common.
What do Chickpeas Taste Like
For me, only one word is suitable to describe the taste of chickpeas: delicious! Chickpeas have a mild yet savory and slightly earthy flavor with a creamy texture. They are versatile; their taste doesn't dominate the dish but will instead take on the flavor they are cooked in.
Where are Chickpeas From?
Chickpeas were originally grown in the Middle East in countries such as Egypt and Turkey thousands of years ago. In fact, the word 'chickpea' in Arabic is hummus, which is a famous Middle Eastern chickpea spread.
Chickpeas then spread worldwide across trade routes, becoming an everyday ingredient in dozens of other countries, including Ethiopia, Italy, Greece, India, and Myanmar.
Are Chickpeas and Garbanzo Beans the Same Thing?
If you have wondered if garbanzo beans and chickpeas are the same, the answer is yes! It is just a matter of different names used in various countries. Generally, the UK uses the word chickpeas, and the United States uses the term garbanzo beans.
Types of Chickpeas
To answer the question of what are chickpeas, you need to know that there are two types:
#1 Whole Chickpeas: Kabuli
Kabuli chickpeas are the whole chickpeas that we often see at the supermarket and health food stores in the United States. Kabuli-type chickpeas have a large round shape, are cream in color, and have a smooth exterior. Kabuli chickpeas have a soft and creamy taste when cooked.
Generally, it is Kabuli chickpeas that are canned and widely used worldwide.
#2 Split Chickpeas: Desi
Chickpeas in a split form are a different type called Desi chickpeas. They are smaller, younger, and sweeter compared to Kabuli chickpeas. The outer shape of the desi-type chickpeas is also more irregular, with a rougher exterior, and darker in color than Kabuli chickpeas. Desi chickpeas are more commonly used in cooking in India. At an Indian grocer, you will find this type of chickpea labeled as 'chana dal.'
Different Ways to Buy Chickpeas
Dried chickpeas are generally cheaper to buy than canned chickpeas and store well in a dry pantry for a long time. I like using dried chickpeas as I can control the level of tenderness as I cook them, depending on what dish I want them for. For example, If I'm in the mood for making homemade hummus, I'll cook them until they are very soft and tender. But if I want to use chickpeas as an ingredient in a salad, I'll cook them until they are soft but a little firmer.
Canned chickpeas are an excellent choice when you are short of time or want convenience. You also don't need to soak them as they are already cooked. Add them to a curry, salad, Hawaiian-style poke bowl, or as the main ingredient in hummus.
Chickpea flour is chickpeas that are ground to form a flour-like texture. Chickpea flour is widely used in many countries, such as India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
Desi-type Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour is traditionally made from desi chick peas. To make this flour, the chickpeas are dried, the outer skin cleaned, and then the chickpeas are left to dry and naturally split open. Only then do the chickpeas begin to be ground until they form flour. Desi chickpea flour is often referred to as gram flour or besan.
Kabuli-type Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour made from Kabuli chickpeas has a coarser and fluffier texture than Desi-type chickpea flour which has a denser and finer texture. Kabuli chickpea flour is often referred to as chickpea or garbanzo flour.
|Chickpea Type||Flour Known As||Texture|
|Kabuli||Chickpea or garbanzo flour||Light and course|
|Desi||Besan or gram flour||Fine, smooth, and dense|
Uses for Chickpeas Flour
There are so many things that you can make from nutrient-packed chickpea flour. Among other things, you can use it as a binding ingredient for fried foods such as veggie burgers, as a thickening agent for soups or stews, as flour for your deep-fried snacks such as South Asian pakoras and South Indian deep-fried potato bonda, and don't even be surprised that chickpea flour can also be used as a gluten-free ingredient in your pancakes, flatbreads, cookies, cakes, muffins, and bread.
How to Cook Dried Chickpeas
Do You Need to Soak Dried Chickpeas First?
It isn't necessary to soak dried chickpeas before cooking; it simply speeds up the cooking process.
If you want to soak the chickpeas, put them in a bowl of fresh cold water and ensure it covers at least a few inches above the chickpeas. Leave the chickpeas to soak for 6-8 hours or overnight. The dried chickpeas will at least double in size and absorb water.
Remember, even though your chickpeas have passed the soaking stage and are more tender, you still have to cook them because you cannot eat chickpeas raw.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas - You can buy pre-packaged chickpeas from your local supermarket, in bulk from a health food store, or from an Indian, African, or Middle Eastern grocer. Like choosing lentils or split peas, choose chickpeas that are smooth in texture and avoid broken or brittle pieces.
- 3 cups water | stock | broth - Whatever water or liquid you add to your chickpeas will be what is going to flavor them.
Instructions for Stovetop
- RINSE - Rinse the dried chickpeas in a sieve under cold water. Remove any debris, dirt, or impurities.
- SOAK - Soak the chickpeas in a bowl of cold water for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- ADD CHICKPEAS AND WATER - Drain the water from the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to the fresh water or broth in a medium-sized saucepan.
- SIMMER - Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender.
- Whole chickpeas: 25 to 35 minutes
- Split chickpeas: 15 to 20 minutes
- DRAIN AND USE - Drain the chickpeas and use them.
- RINSE - Rinse the dried chickpeas in a sieve with cold water and remove any impurities or discolored chickpeas.
- ADD CHICKPEAS AND WATER - Add the chickpeas to the water in a pan.
- SIMMER - On high heat, allow the water to boil and then reduce to a simmer until the chickpeas are tender.
- Whole chickpeas: 40 to 50 minutes
- Split chickpeas: 25 to 35 minutes
- DRAIN AND USE - Drain the chickpeas and use them in your recipe.
How Long Does it Take for Chickpeas to Cook?
|Type||Soak Time||Cook Time|
|Whole chickpeas||0 hours||40 to 50 minutes|
|Whole chickpeas||6 - 8 hours||25 to 35 minutes|
|Split Chickpeas||0 hours||25 to 35 minutes|
|Split Chickpeas||6 - 8 hours||15 to 20 minutes|
How do you Know When are Chickpeas Done?
It is good to remember what dish you plan to add the chickpeas to, as you may want them to be softer or firmer. For example, cook the chickpeas until tender and very soft for making hummus. If you want to add whole chickpeas to a salad, cook them until they are tender but a little firmer.
Other Cooking Methods
- Rinse - Add 1 cup of chickpeas to a sieve and rinse under cold water. Sort through for any debris, broken or discolored chickpeas.
- Soak - Put the chickpeas in a bowl of water to soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- Prepare - Drain the chickpeas and add them to the slow cooker with fresh water or broth. Add your other ingredients, such as meat, vegetables, and flavorings.
- Slow cook - Seal the lid on the slow cooker, then turn on high for 4 hours or up to 8 hours on low. Taste and adjust.
Yes, you can cook dried chickpeas in the microwave:
- Rinse - Rinse the dried chickpeas in a sieve under cool water. Remove any dirt or impurities.
- Soak - Place the washed chickpeas in a bowl of cold water and soak for 6 to 8 hours.
- Prepare - Strain the chickpeas and put the chickpeas and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover it with a microwave-safe lid.
- Microwave - Microwave on high. Stop the microwave every 10 minutes to stir the chickpeas and to ensure even cooking. Cook until tender.
Pressure Cooker and Instant Pot
If you prefer not to pre-soak your dried chickpeas, use a helpful cooking tool, the pressure cooker. Pressure cookers, including Instant Pots, are a fast way to produce soft chickpeas.
Note - check the instructions of your pressure cooker brand as all models vary in cooking time and recommended water amount.
- Rinse - Rinse the chickpeas in a sieve under cold water. Remove any discolored chickpeas or other matter.
- Pressure cook - Add the chickpeas, water, and other ingredients and seasoning to the pot. Turn on and pressure cook on high to cook.
- Release - Once the cooking is finished, let the pressure cooker sit so it can naturally release for 10 to 15 minutes. Then release the remaining pressure in your cooker.
How to Add Flavor to Chickpeas
- Stock | broth - Use homemade or store-bought broth, bouillon, or stock to add flavor to your chickpeas.
- Spices - Add different spices to your chickpeas as they are cooking for extra flavor. Toast the spices beforehand to help release the flavors before adding them to the cooking liquid.
- Meat - This will help build the flavor of the dish. You can use chopped-up meat or a meat bone.
- Vegetables - Finely chop up celery and carrot and saute for a few minutes. Add a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. Add your stock, broth, or water. The flavor will infuse through the chickpeas.
- Aromatics - Saute a few cloves of garlic and a finely diced onion in oil to add extra flavor to the cooking liquid.
What Can Chickpeas Be Used For?
What are Garbanzo Beans Good For?
It's incomplete to talk about what are chickpeas without giving you some chickpea cooking ideas.
For me, my first trip to India many years ago made me want to learn how to make chickpea curries and start using all legumes, such as dried chickpeas, different types of lentils, and peas, more often in my cooking.
Here are some ideas of what I often make at home using whole and split chickpeas as well as chickpea flour:
- Hummus - Homemade hummus is super easy to make and pairs with almost anything, from traditional pita and flatbreads to a coating for baked chicken. The options are endless! Read my what to eat with hummus article for 27+ traditional and creative ideas.
- Falafel - Equally easy is falafel! Falafel is one of the favorite "fast foods" in the Middle East. Why is it called "fast food"? Because making falafel is very fast, and you can buy it from nearly every neighborhood street vendor in Egypt. If you are a vegetarian or have friends who are vegetarians or vegans, then falafel is a delicious choice of dish.
- Salad - Of course, now that you have all of the answers about 'what are chickpeas', you can't wait to add these nutrient-packed legumes to your salad bowl! Yes, chickpeas can easily be added to your salad. Simply boil the chickpeas to the right degree of tenderness (if you are using dried chickpeas), or drain the chickpeas from the can and add them to your favorite salad. Don't forget to sprinkle some toasted edible seeds on top for even more flavor and nutrition.
- Burgers - You can easily replace your meat patty with a chickpeas patty without losing its delicious taste. For burgers, I prefer to roast the cooked chickpeas with onions, carrots, and mushrooms for 20 minutes. Afterward, I put the roasted ingredients in a food processor until well blended. Add salt and pepper according to taste and flour (you can even use chickpea flour) or eggs to bind all the ingredients. After that, shape it into a patty.
- Chana masala - This north Indian chickpea curry is made from chickpeas cooked in an onion and tomato masala.
- Bhaji - I love making Indian onion bhaji with gram flour (Desi-type chickpea flour) flavored with chili powder, turmeric, and fresh green chili very finely chopped.
- Chickpea flour pasta - I cheat on this one! I buy store-bought chickpea flour pasta and add a tasty homemade sauce for a quick, easy weeknight dinner.
- Will chickpeas thicken curry? - Like using other types of flour to thicken a curry, stew, or soup, make a paste out of chickpea flour and water and, while continuously stirring, add it to the dish.
- Roasted chickpea snacks - Roast cooked chickpeas seasoned with oil, salt, paprika, and curry powder. A very moreish snack!
When you start cooking whole chickpeas, you may wonder, should I separate and throw away the skin? The answer is that there is no need to separate the skin of the chickpeas when you cook with them.
However, if you require an ultra-fine texture for a particular dish, you can separate the skin after cooking them.
In my experience, I prefer leaving the skin on. Even with a dish like my homemade hummus, I prefer not to remove the skin and have that too-smooth texture, as I think the hummus tastes better with a bit of texture.
Chickpea Liquid - Aquafaba
The liquid in the can of chickpeas or the cooking liquid from boiling dried chickpeas is called aquafaba. It is a versatile ingredient and can be used for:
- Meringues - You can whip up the aquafaba liquid just like egg whites to form soft peaks and use it to make light and delicious meringues suitable for vegans.
- Hummus - Replace the water in my homemade hummus recipe with the aquafaba liquid for extra creamy and delicious hummus every time!
- Macaroons - Use aquafaba for crisp on the outside and tender in the middle macaroons!
- Mayonnaise - Replace the egg with aquafaba for creamy vegan-friendly mayonnaise.
Where Can I Buy Chickpeas
Chickpeas can easily be found in most supermarkets and grocery stores. You will also find chickpeas in organic food stores and Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African grocers.
Where Would Chickpeas be in a Grocery Store?
Dried - You'll usually find dried chickpeas on the same shelf as other dried beans, peas, and lentils.
Canned - Canned chickpeas are generally in the canned vegetable section, along with tomatoes and other canned legumes.
Chickpea Substitutes - 13+ Ideas
# 1 - Red Lentils
Red lentils are one of the quickest-cooking lentils and become soft very quickly. They are ideal for helping to thicken curries, soups, and stews. Learn how to prepare and cook red lentils and use them in healthy and nutritious meals.
# 2 - Green lentils
Green lentils hold their shape well during cooking and suit my lentil dahl recipe perfectly!
# 3 - Beluga Black Lentils
Black Beluga lentils are tiny black-colored lentils that keep their shape well during cooking and are a valuable plant-based protein.
# 4 - Chickpea Vs Lentil
Learn the difference between chickpeas and lentils and how to prepare, season, and cook them in healthy recipes.
# 5 - Grains
Substitute chickpeas with grains such as brown rice, barley, or millet in salads and stews.
# 6 - Nuts
Many different types of nuts, such as peanuts and cashews, can be used as a substitute for chickpeas and to thicken a dish. Crush the cashew nuts in a food processor or mortar and pestle, and stir through the dish to thicken and flavor.
# 7 - Chickpea Vs Pea
Learn how to cook whole dried peas to add protein to soups, stews, and curries.
# 8 - Split Peas Vs Chickpeas
Split peas quickly cook and break down easily, making them a great addition to thickening soups, curries, and stews. Learn how to cook split peas and use them in delicious and healthy recipes.
# 9 - Lentils vs Split Peas
Learn the difference between lentils and split peas and how to use each type in various dishes.
# 10 - Chickpea Vs Black Bean
Are black eyed peas a good substitute for chickpeas? Dried beans, such as black-eyed beans, are suitable substitutes for chickpeas and are versatile for salads, chili, soups, and stews.
# 11 - Kidney Beans Vs Chickpeas
Kidney beans keep their lovely red color when cooked and work well in a salad or a hot or cold dish.
# 12 - Borlotti Beans
Borlotti beans were a favorite of my Italian nonna and make a good replacement for chickpeas in a range of healthy and nutritious meals.
# 13 - White Beans
White beans, such as great northern, navy, butter, and cannellini beans, all make tasty ingredient variations to chickpeas.
How to Store Chickpeas
Pantry - If you buy canned chickpeas, you can store the unopened can in a cool and dry place.
Fridge - Once you've opened the can, remove all of the leftover chickpeas and store them in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Freezer - Can chickpeas be frozen? Freezing chickpeas will extend their shelf life for a few months. Simply open the can, and place the chickpeas and liquid in an air-tight container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Uncooked Dried Chickpeas
Pantry - Dried chickpeas are very easy to store. Either leave them in their original sealed packet or put them in an air-tight container and store them in a dry kitchen pantry.
Cooked Dried Chickpeas
If you want a supply of pre-cooked dried chickpeas, you can soak them, drain them, cook them, and store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. If you store them in the freezer, you can store them for up to 3 months.
If you are lucky enough to buy fresh chickpea pods, store them in the crisper section of your fridge for up to three or four days.
What is Chickpeas FAQs
Why are Chickpeas Called Garbanzo Beans?
Garbanzo beans are simply the Spanish-derived name for chickpeas.
What Else Are Chickpeas Called?
Other names for whole chickpeas are chick peas, Bengal gram, gram, chana, channa, garbanzo, garbanzo beans, and Egyptian peas.
Split chickpeas are also known as chana dal, split Bengal Gram, split chickpeas, and yellow gram.
What are Chickpeas Origin?
- Where are chickpeas grown? - Today, India is one of the world's largest growers of chickpeas.
- What do chickpeas grow on? - Chickpeas grow as seeds in a pod on bushy chickpea plants.
Canned Vs Dried Chickpeas?
Which Chickpeas Are Best?
- Is it better to buy canned chickpeas? Buying canned chickpeas is not better; just more convenient! I always like to have a few cans of chickpeas in the pantry just in case I want to create a quick and healthy meal or snack.
- Are canned chickpeas healthy? Dried and canned chickpeas are both nutritious foods. You can check the label on your canned chickpeas to see if they have added salt and other ingredients. You can choose one without added salt if you are concerned.
- How about the price? Yes, usually, canned chickpeas are more expensive than dried chickpeas. But for really quick cooking preparation and convenience, I often think the higher price is worth it.
Can Chickpeas be Eaten Raw?
Remember, dried chickpeas can't be eaten raw and must always be cooked before eating.
Are Chickpeas Good For You?
Are chickpeas healthy? Chickpeas are full of nutrition and are loaded with dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins such as folate.
How Much do Chickpeas Expand When Cooked?
1 cup of chickpeas - One cup of dried chickpeas equals about 2 - 3 cups of cooked chickpeas.
How Many Cups of Chickpeas in a Can?
- How many grams in a can of chickpeas? - A typical can of chickpeas ranges from 400 to 420 grams.
- What is a can of chickpeas in cups? - A can of chickpeas is about 1 ⅔ cups.
- 1 can of garbanzo beans - A typical can of chickpeas is 14 to 15 ounces.
What Kind of Food are Chickpeas?
- Is a chickpea a pea or a bean? It's a bit tricky! Yes, chickpeas are often referred to as garbanzo beans, but maybe you will be surprised like I was to learn that chickpeas are not beans. Technically, chickpeas are a pulse. That is, they are the seed that grows in a pod on a legume plant.
- Are chickpeas a vegetable? Chickpeas are a nutritious vegetable and are part of the greater legume family that contains peas, beans, and lentils.
- Are chickpeas a lentil? Chickpeas are not a type of lentil. Chickpeas are larger and firmer than lentils, and they both grow on different types of plants.
- Are chickpeas a nut? Chickpeas are not a type of nut. Chickpeas are of the family Fabaceae and are a legume.
- Are chickpeas a grain? Chickpeas are not a type of grain.
- Are chickpeas the same as soybeans? Chickpeas and soybeans do not come from the same plant.
- Are chickpeas legumes? Chickpea plants are legumes, while the chickpeas inside each pod are specifically called a pulse. Typically there are two to three chickpeas per pod.
- Are chickpeas a type of pea? The name is tricky as it suggests that chickpeas are a pea when in fact, chickpeas grow on a different plant from peas.
- What is the difference between yellow peas and chickpeas? Yellow split peas and split Desi chickpeas look very similar but are grown on different plants.
- Are yellow split peas and chana dal the same? Chana dal is simply split chickpeas, so yes, they differ from yellow split peas, which grow on a different plant. They do look very similar and have a similar texture, though.
What are Chickpeas - In Conclusion
Now you have all the information you need to know about what are chickpeas; you can start looking for them when you next go grocery shopping and start using chickpeas in your daily cooking!
What are Chickpeas
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 3 cups water broth, stock
- Rinse the dried chickpeas in a sieve under running cold water. Pick through the chickpeas and remove any impurities such as discolored chickpeas or broken bits.
- Put the chickpeas in a bowl of cold water and soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain the chickpeas from the soaking water. Add them to 3 cups of broth or water in a medium-sized saucepan.
- Bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat down to allow the chickpeas to simmer. Cook the chickpeas until tender.
- Drain the chickpeas and use.
- Unsoaked - cook time 40 to 50 minutes
- Soaked - cook time 25 to 35 minutes
- Unsoaked - cook time 25 to 35 minutes
- Soaked - cook time 15 to 20 minutes
Recipes With Chickpeas
- Homemade hummus
- Roasted red pepper hummus