The Garbanzo bean is a legume of the family 'Fataceae'. It is also known as the gram, Bengal gram, chickpea, and sometimes known as hummus, Egyptian pea, cece, or Chana or Kabuli chana. The garbanzo bean has a delicious nut-like flavor and a buttery texture. It provides a concentrated source of protein that can be enjoyed year round available either dried or canned.
There are three types of Garbanzo beans:
Most commonly seen at salad bars and in canned product are the 'kabuli' type. These beans are cream colored or sometimes whitish in color, fairly uniform and rounded in shape. While 'kabuli' type beans are the ones we are accustomed to finding in US saladbars and grocery stores, they actually represent only 10 - 20% of the garbanzo beans consumed worldwide.
'Desi' type beans are much smaller and darker in color (light tan to black).
'Bombay' type beans are dark like the 'desi' bean but slightly larger. They are popular in the Indian subcontinent.
The garbanzo bean originated in the Middle East, the region of the world whose varied food cultures still heavily rely on this high protein legume. The first record of garbanzo beans being consumed dates back about 7,000 years. They were first cultivated around 3,000 B.C. . Their cultivation began in the Mediterranean basin and spread to India and Ethiopia. Garbanzo beans were grown by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans and were very popular among these cultures.
My first memory of chickpeas or cece peas as we most often called them was of my mother bringing them home one day and offering them. They were not one of our staple foods, but my mother was always reading about nutrition and I thought it was just something she read about that was good for you. We would just have a scoop of them as a side dish with dinner. I liked them immediately and when I tried hummus I loved them.
I don't remember garbanzo beans in the produce department because they were either with dried beans or in cans in the bean section of the grocery shelves.
Garbanzo beans, like most legumes have good fiber content. In a study where participants received their dietary fiber primarily from garbanzo beans they had lower LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol , and tryglycerides. One third cup of garbanzo beans can improve control of blood sugar and insulin secretion. Results were achieved in just one week.
Selecting and Storing:
Garbanzo beans can be found dried bulk or in prepackaged containers, or canned. When purchasing dry, make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage, and that the beans are whole and not cracked. Store dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place, where they will keep up to 12 months.
- Puree garbanzo beans with olive oil, fresh garlic, tahini, and lemon juice to make a hummus spread.
- Sprinkle garbanzo beans with your favorite herbs and spices to eat as a snack.
- Add garbanzo beans to your green salad.
- Add garbanzo beans to penne pasta mixed with olive oil, feta cheese, and fresh oregano.
- Simmer cooked garbanzo beans in a sauce of tomato paste, curry spices, and chopped walnuts, and serve with brown rice.
- Add garbanzo beans to you vegetable soup to enhance taste, texture, and nutritional content.
So..... Eat up! Enjoy! I'll show you how.
Simple but Good:
1 can chickpeas, drained. Reserve liquid
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Combine ingredients except olive oil, salt and reserved liquid in a food processor. Pulse and add enough reserve liquid until smooth. Run processor and add olive oil. Add salt. Puree until smooth.