Sunday, October 29, 2006

A tribute to chickpeas, and a recipe for spicy hummus

soaking chickpeasI recently discovered the joy of buying dried chickpeas and cooking them myself instead of buying them canned. I started buying dry beans instead of canned to save some money, but now I'm starting to appreciate the difference in flavor and texture. This photograph shows the beans soaking in my favorite Pyrex bowl.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are one of the many ways I sneak more calcium, protein and fiber into my diet. I toss them on salads. I throw them in pasta with tomato sauce. I make Indian curries with them. I puree them into creamy hummus that I eat on raw carrots, celery and red bell pepper, or on rice crackers. I love their nutty, unique but unimposing flavor, and their soft texture.

Here are instructions for preparing dried chickpeas, and then a recipe for my hands-down favorite chickpea dish, which I'll be having for lunch today with domas (Greek rice-stuffed grape leaves) and a broccoli and feta salad.

Soaking & Cooking Dried Chickpeas

Place dried chickpeas in a bowl or pot and add cold water to cover by 3 inches or more. Leave them at room temperature for 4 hours, or overnight.

Rinse, drain and place in pot. Cover by 4 inches or more with cold water or vegetable stock. For every 2 cups of dried beans, add 1 teaspoon of salt. Optionally, you can add bay leaves, onions or garlic at this point to impart extra flavor.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover partially (leave just a little gap so that some steam can release) and reduce to a simmer. Check the liquid periodically and add more when necessary to ensure that beans are always covered. Cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are soft but not mushy and still retain their shape.

Spicy Hummus

16 ounces cooked garbanzo beans (or one 15-ounce can)
1/3 cup sesame tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
1 raw garlic cloves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 teaspoons hot chili oil
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper (optional)

Combine tahini, olive oil and garlic in food processor or blender. Blend until pureed.

Add remaining ingredients, blend until smooth and creamy consistency.

Serve at room temperature, with pita bread, on crackers, as a sandwich spread, or as a dip for raw vegetables. Store in refrigerator. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 8-10 servings.


Anonymous said...

that sounds VERY yummy!

for people who have to watch blood sugar levels (like me *g*) there is the desi kind of chickpeas, chana dal. they are less starchy and have more protein and more fiber, i think. they do not affect blood sugar anywhere near as much as the kabuli style chickpeas (the giant white ones). we get 25 lbs for $30 (organic, dried) from

Anonymous said...

Hi, there. Nothing to do with chick peas, but last week you asked me about GF turkey stuffing. Well, tonight I stuffed a roasting chicken with a mixture of minced GF mild Italian sausage and sauteed diced onion, and then trussed it and baked it slow and low in a closed casserole. It was classic French and very good. I don't know how easy it would be to scale such a thing up to a turkey, or how a drier cooking method (roasting uncovered for a crisp skin) would effect this. But it was very favourful and had a similar texture to chicken-fat-soaked breadcrumbs. You could try it out with a three-pound bird some weeknight before the holidays to see if you like it.

cookiecrumb said...

Did you know you can also fry cooked chickpeas in oil for a little snicker-snack?
Oh, and then there's the socca, a Provencal pancake made from chickpea flour.

~M said...

The only kind of dried chickpeas I've seen are Goya brand, and they say that they might contain wheat on the package so they are out. What brand of dried chickpeas do you use?

ByTheBay said...

There are a million kinds of dried chickpeas. I buy mine from the bulk bins at a local grocery store, or as last resort at Whole Foods - or pre-bagged from any number of companies that sell them at a grocery store.

Bob's Red Mill brand is especially good about keeping products fully gluten-free:

~M said...

Do you know if it's possible to use a crockpot to moisten and heat the garbanzos?

Anonymous said...

I tried the soak method for dried chick peas, but it didn't really work. Even after mega-soaking, and more than a few boils/simmers, they still remained relatively hard, dry and raw-ish on the inside (as opposed to the taste/texture of canned chick peas). Can you please tell me what I did wrong? I didn't use all that much salt - perhaps that was my problem?

ByTheBay said...

Anon: I've never had trouble with this method. It's pretty standard. Another write-up of the soak and cook method can be found here if you want to try to follow different directions for what is basically the same method. A lot of people actually say NOT to use salt, but there's no reason not to. It's really up to you. It shouldn't have any significant effect on how quick the beans are done. How long did you cook them for? They need to cook for 1 to 1.5 hours AFTER they come to a boil (i.e. the time I gave doesn't count the time it takes for the pot of beans to come to a boil). I would just continue cooking them until they are tender, however long that takes for you. It may take longer because of your elevation or the beans you use. You can use a pressure cooker or a crockpot if you don't want to stand over a pot for that long. Hope this helps.

dancingonthepath said...

I would definitely cook them without salt. Salt hardens the shell of any bean and you can cook for 20 hours and the bean will never soften.

Don't salt until the beans are done.