Chickpea (Garbanzo Beans) are a very versatile variety of legumes that is known as chickpeas, channa, ceci bean and Bengal gram. The scientific name for chickpea is Cicer arientinum and it belongs to the subfamily Faboideae of the family Fabaceae. “Cicer
“Cicer arientinum” literally means “small ram”, pointing towards the shape of this legume that resembles the head of a ram. Chickpea is one of the legumes that were cultivated as early as 7500 years ago. Chickpea has a nutty taste and a buttery texture, and yet they are starchy to an extent.
It is an essential ingredient in many Indian and Middle Eastern dishes like curries, falafels, and hummus. They can also use in various other ways. They may tossed with salads, or enthused into stews or even mashed and made into a Mediterranean dip or roasted and transformed into a crunchy dish.
They are also an excellent source of protein and pack in a lot of nutrients for a tiny amount of calories. Because of the dish, they are considered to be one of the most eligible foods for dieting.
They can be enjoyed throughout the year and are available in the dries, canned and fresh varieties.
Chickpea is very healthy and helps in boosting fitness on more counts than one.
1. Fiber, Fiber
Rich in soluble as well as insoluble fiber, chickpea is an excellent way of steering clear of constipation and other digestive disorders.
The soluble fibers combine with cholesterol-containing bile to form a gel-like substance, which is excreted out.
2. Good news for vegetarians
One cup of beans contains about 27% of daily protein requirements.
Chickpea is a good source of protein for vegetarians when combined with whole grains and hence makes it easier for vegetarians to have their day’s quota of proteins without having to worry about the bad fats and cholesterol like the non-vegetarian sources of proteins.
3. Burst of energy
Chickpea is helpful in boosting energy as they are rich in manganese and iron content.
Manganese is an important component for enzyme production, and iron is an essential constituent of hemoglobin.
4. A Boon For Blood Sugar
Chickpea stabilizes and lowers blood sugar levels and hence is a wonder food for diabetics.
They also have a Glycemic Index of 28-32 which is quite small and hence they provide steady energy as the carbohydrate is broken down slowly.
They are also considered great for weight loss as they give one the sensation of feeling full.
5. Healthy heart
Regular intake helps lower the bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
In addition to this, the significant amounts of folate lower the amino acids’ levels and makes the blood vessels healthy. They are even found to lower the risk of heart attacks.
6. Female friendly
Certain phytochemicals present in chickpea reduce the likelihood of breast cancer, reduces hot flushes in women who are post-menopausal and guards against osteoporosis.
The iron content is essential for pregnant, lactating or menstruating women.
7. Amazing Antioxidants
Chickpea not only contain conventional antioxidants like vitamin C and E and beta-carotene, but they also contain antioxidant phytonutrients.
Manganese is found in high quantities, and all these help restore the damage made by reactive oxygen molecules.
8. Dieting? Here’s some Chickpea
High fiber content, as well as low Glycemic Index values, makes chickpea an excellent diet food. Not only are they tasty, but they also control appetite and keeps people full for extended periods of time.
A cup of chickpea has only 270 calories that are 10-15% of daily calories, and in return, they provide 50% fiber and 30% proteins of the daily requirements. As is obvious, chickpea is the wonder food for anyone struggling with weight management.
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History and Production
Chickpea originated where food cultures are widely varied and heavily dependent on high proteins legumes, i.e., the Middle East. They were first recorded as being consumed approximately 7,000 years ago.
The cultivation was majorly confined to the Mediterranean basin but later spread to parts of India and Ethiopia as well.
They were cultivated and consumed by ancient Romans, Egyptians, and Greeks. In the 16th century, chickpea was introduced in the subtropical regions by Portuguese and Spanish explorers, along with Indians who migrated to other nations.
Modern day commercial producers of chickpea include Ethiopia, Turkey, Mexico, India, and Pakistan. India is the leading producer of chickpea in the world, with a production rate 15 times as high as the next largest producer, Australia.
Other countries that are leading producers of chickpea include Myanmar, Iran, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Pakistan.
Types of Chickpea
Chickpea is available in three main varieties:
- Desi- this variety has small, dark seeds and a coarse outer cover. It is cultivated basically in the Indian subcontinent, Iran, Ethiopia, and Mexico.
- Bombay- this variety is also dark colored, but the size is slightly more than Desi. It is also grown in the subcontinent of India.
- Kabuli- this variety gets its name from Kabul in Afghanistan. This variety is light in color, has larger seeds and a smooth outer covering. It was introduced in India in the 18th century and is now grown in Southern Europe, South America, and Northern Africa.
Chickpea How To: Select and Store
Chickpea is available in canned forms in small containers as well as in bulk bins. They are fit for consumption, and it is often required to be soaked in water overnight before being used.
The good news is that unlike canned vegetables that lose their nutritional value when they are canned, chickpea shows no damage when canned.
Going for such dried versions that have no salt or extra additives is recommended. When the beans are to be cooked in their raw form, it is often better to buy the fresh variety. The dried beans may be stored in a dark, cool and dry place for up to 12 months. As far as cooked chickpea are concerned, they may be stored in a refrigerator in an enclosed container for 72 hours.
Preparing Chickpea: Tips
- Check for and remove stones, damaged beans or debris that may be present among the beans, before washing. It is to be followed by thoroughly washing the beans.
- Soaking the beans in water before consumption often shortens the cooking time and makes it easier for digestion. A minimum soaking time of 4 hours is recommended. Longer periods of soaking time is not harmful.
- Chickpea usually takes about 1-1.5 hours to become tender when it is cooked in thrice the amount of water.
- Canned beans may also be consumed if there is a shortage of time. The beans which have certain additives added to them do not need to be boiled and only need to be heated for a brief time for hot recipes.
- Canned beans need to be rinsed thoroughly before use.
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