Carbohydrates, legumes and meat substitutes, all rolled into one! The chickpea is a versatile pulse. Chickpeas grow in pods of twos or threes on a small plant. In other words they are pulses, just like lentils and beans. You can buy them either dried or in a jar or tin. Chickpeas are very popular in Mediterranean countries, India and Mexico. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in dishes like hummus and falafel.
How to prepare
Raw chickpeas contain a natural toxin called lectins but the toxin is neutralised by heat. Chickpeas out of a jar or tin have already been cooked so they are ready for immediate use – they can be eaten as they are or re-heated briefly. Dried chickpeas are more flavoursome but they also involve more effort. First, leave them to soak overnight in plenty of cold water. Then cook them according to the instructions on the packaging. The older they are, the longer it will take for them to soften, but you should allow at least one hour. It’s not a disaster if you cook them for longer because chickpeas don’t tend to disintegrate quickly.
Buyer's and storage guide
When buying dried or tinned chickpeas, check the packaging for storage details and best-before date.