All You Wanted to Know About Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a roundish, beige to light green members of the legume family, grown primarily in Asia, India, and in the Mediterranean.

All About Chickpeas | A Life Time of Cooking

This is the story of chickpeas.

It is a long history. This bean is loved throughout the world, from India, throughout the Middle East, into Europe and beyond. From spicy curries to soft and unctuous beans in salads. From pasta dishes to omelette like Soccas and Farinatas. Ground into flour and cooked on its own or mixed with other flours. This humble little pea sure is powerful.

Are you after Chickpea recipes? Try Hummus, Channa Chaat, Falafel, and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Preserved Lemon. You might also enjoy Channa Sundal, Smashed Chickpea and Broccoli Salad, or a Simple Chickpea Salad.

We have many more Chickpea recipes. You can browse the collection here.

Want to know how to cook the softest chickpeas? Our method is here.

About The Chickpea

Other Names for

garbanzo beans
bengal gram
channa dal
ceci (italian)

Most popular in the Middle Eastern dish hummus, chickpeas are a roundish, beige to light green members of the legume family. They are grown primarily in Asia, India, and in the Mediterranean.There are basically 2 types – Kabuli, or the larger European chickpea, and Desi, the smaller Indian variety.

In addition to the usual white chickpea, there is also a black variety and a green one.

Chickpeas are used a lot in Italian cooking, being used to make pasta and bean dishes. They are added to marinated vegetables and in antipasto. The French love the chickpeas and chickpea flour also.

Simple Delicious Chickpea Salad | Salads | Vegetarian | A Life Time of Cooking

Gram Flour – Chickpea Flour

Chickpeas also can be ground up and used as a flour called gram flour. Gram flour is used widely in India for a large variety of dishes, and elsewhere to make falafel, or in Burma to make a variety of tofu, known as Burmese tofu.

If you are out of gram flour it is easy to make. Lightly toast chickpeas by heating them in a frying pan until they colour slightly, shaking the pan to prevent burning. Place them in a blender and blend until they reach the consistency of flour. High speed blenders work best.

Chickpea Flour

Youย  might like to try: Chickpea Flour Flatbreads, Farinata, Chickpea Fingers and Pudla.

Chickpea in all its glory


Chickpeas are great for vegetarians. A half a cup has about 17 grams of dietary fibre and 19 grams of protein. They are also considered more digestible than most other beans – ie less gas!

Chickpea Nutrition: From a nutritional standpoint, chickpeas are an excellent source of protein. With respect to other legumes they have a higher fat content, which makes them more caloric; they are therefore not what one wants during a diet. However, they are quite rich in calcium, making them a good choice for combating osteoporosis, are also rich in iron, and are an excellent source of fiber. They’re instead sodium-poor, which makes them a good bet for those on reduced sodium diets.

There is some confusion about whether chickpeas contain purine or not. The general consensus from my readers (see the comments) is that they do. But you will find some sites on the internet that indicate that purine is low. So please, do your own research if purine or lack of, is important to you.

You might like to read these articles:

  • A great, lay person’s explanation of purine, citing research that indicates purines from plant sources is used by the body in different ways to purine from animal products: WHFoods
  • This document on Diabetic Information, indicates that chickpeas can be eaten if you have gout, but in moderated amounts.

And there is much more conflicting information. Be guided by your doctor and your own research.

Chickpea Chat

Soaking and Cooking Chickpeas

You can buy chickpeas in a can, but they taste so much better if you cook them yourself. If you buy raw chickpeas, in fact any dried bean or pea, check the production date on the package, because if they are too old they simply won’t soften no matter how long they soak or cook.

Soak the chickpeas overnight or for 24 hours if you can. If you like, add baking soda when soaking chickpeas, as it is said that it softens the skins and prevents the skins from slipping off during the cooking process, keeping the beans intact.

Cook them for 1 – 2 hours until nicely soft but not falling apart. I add a pinch of turmeric to the water as they cook. Don’t use salt – it toughens the skin. When cooked, they will have a rather creamy texture.

Because they take so long to cook, they are good to cook in the colder weather to warm the kitchen. But they can be eaten at all times of the year.

They can also be cooked very slowly in the oven. This produces a very soft, wonderful chickpea. They can also be cooked overnight in a slow cooker.

Chickpeas can be cooked and then frozen for later use in hummus or curries.

Soaking Chickpeas

Removing Skins from Chickpeas

See this post for a solution.

Serving Chickpeas
  • The easiest way to serve them is still hot, drizzled with a extra virgin olive oil and seasoned to taste with celtic sea salt and pepper. Serve with bread and a salad for a light lunch or as part of a larger meal.
  • Hummus is a must.
  • Use in salads and snacks as well as curries and bakes.
  • Chickpea curry is wonderful.
  • Chickpeas can also be fried for a wonderlicious snack.
  • In antipasto. In tomato paella. With beans. In pasta dishes.

Green Salad with Chickpeas, Preserved Lemon and Feta

Spiritual Significance

In the local Hindu temple, we make garlands from soaked chickpeas for Siva. It is because the chickpeas resemble rudraksha beads. I also like the thought that, as chickpeas come in two halves, cojoined to make 1 chickpea, they represent the Siva Shakti bond, or even more, the Saivite monistic dualism – 2 yet 1.



Browse all of our Chickpea recipes here. You might like to try Hummus, Falafel and Slow Cooked Tomato Chickpeas.

Spicy Slow Cooked Tomato Chickpeas with Burrata, toasted Focaccia and Fried Leek Strings


Author: Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.

47 thoughts on “All You Wanted to Know About Chickpeas”

  1. I love chick peas – what a wonderful post (and beautiful photos)!

    I have never heard of Burmese Tofu – sounds amazing.

    I have never tried fried chickpeas either – do you just dry fry cooked chickpeas? Or fry with a little oil or ghee?

  2. I adore chickpeas! Had a wonderful chickpea and sesame (Indian) dish this Saturday at a friend’s house !

    I normally buy them tinned, my favourite being the East End brand. Their chickpeas are so delicious and soft that I sometimes eat them straight out of the can!

    I tried using dried chickpeas and soaking them once – BUT – even after 2 – 3 days of soaking = a few hours of cooking they still remained incredibly hard!!! I used Natco brand for this, if that means anything to you. What do you think might have good (awfully) wrong?

  3. [UPDATED]
    Hi Maninas, If you buy raw chickpeas, in fact any dried bean or pea, check the production date on the package, because if they are too old they simply wonโ€™t soften no matter how long they soak or cook. Make sure they are not from the Vedic times ๐Ÿ™‚ but are more recent. Then they are so delicious.

    If soak them for longer than 12 hours, keep them in the fridge, otherwise they will begin to ferment – you can tell by the smell. They must still smell fresh, and give them a rinse under running water anyway before cooking them. You can soak them in the fridge for several days, and in my opinion, this improves the flavour. See Lucy’s recipe which is a cracker at .

    I use fresh chickpeas rather than canned most of the time because I prefer not to be putting all the preservative and salt that is in canned food into my body. Just a personal preference. I do use a few cans tho – coconut milk, tomatoes in winter and butter beans. Lately, I have begun soaking chickpeas and then freezing them before cooking, so that when I need some for a dish, voila! they are ready immediately.

    Nearlyvegan, you can fry the chickpeas in some ghee or oil. There are some recipes on the net – see for example.

    Thanks for visiting and ever so glad you liked the post.

  4. aha! ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks very much for the info! That must have been it. I will give it another go, since I’m not keen on entering salt & preservatives int0 my body either…

  5. I find that if I run my tap water through a water softener it is much quicker to cook chick peas. If you live in a hard water area, this might be a problem. I’ve heard you can put baking soda in tap water to make it softer but I’m not sure how true that is.

  6. The one time I cooked dried chick peas, it seemed like the skins should be removed, but the process of doing that was quite time consuming. Is there an easy way to do this or should I just ignore the skins next time?

    Sometimes when you cook chickpeas, the skins will float off. No need to remove them, but often I find that if I drain the chickpeas first by pouring the cooking water into the sink from the saucepan (ie not straining them with a sieve) a lot of the skins will float away with the water.

    I always use dried chickpeas but don’t ever have trouble with the skins – there are some there but it is not a big deal. Maybe check the dried chickpeas before buying to make sure they are good quality and not broken.

    Good luck!

  7. I’m only veturing a guess here as to why Siva is given chickpea malas- it’s probably on Thursdays, or Jupiter days which is the Guru or DakshinaMurthi the teacher or Guru form of Siva. Chickpeas are the special grain to propitiate Jupiter.

    I did not know about Jupiter and chickpeas – thank you so much.

  8. Thank you for posting this! I’m making the chickpea cutlets from Vegamonicon (or however that’s spelled!) and the recipe calls for already-cooked chickpeas and so doesn’t tell me how to how the raw. But I found this and you have saved the day! Thank you!

    I am so pleased that it was helpful, brista.

    I will let you into a secret. I have soaked chickpeas for DAYS in the fridge, when I ran out of time to cook them. Long soaking makes them very buttery when cooked.

  9. I just switched from canned to dried chick peas…thanks for answering my question on how long to soak the buggers. My hummus-addicted family appreciates it!

  10. I have bought the chick peas for some time and am about to make homemade hummus. Took me a long time to find tahini in Basel. Great info on the background of chick peas, I feel more confident to cook them now.

  11. I love love love your article. and I love chickpeas so thanks for helping me learn how to use them.

  12. I have a local health food shop & am able to purchase fresh dried chick peas very reasonably.
    I use them to make hummus and a variety of stir fry dishes.
    Here is one that I make regularly & my family just love it.
    It’s quick easy & simple.
    One cauliflower, pulled apart into reasonable sized florets.Three tomatoes sliced, Three cloves of fresh garlic sliced, fresh cooked chickpeas, the amount is whatever your personal taste requires.
    Place olive oil into a frying pan add freshly ground black pepper & mustard seed with the garlic, fry gently, then add the rest of the ingrediants and stir fry gently for approx 15 minutes.
    I occassionally add fresh lime juice prior to serving it as it extends the flavours.
    Makes a great side dish or main meal.

  13. In little towns in Mexico, the Mexican kids sell boiled chickpeas— or at least they have the shape of chickpeas– in their hulls. There are always two beans per hull. I believe they had been boiled. They are fresh off the bush or vine or however they grow. I believe I recall they’d been boiled in salty water. Quite good. I forget what time of year.—GR

  14. Any ideas why my fresh chickpeas sometimes come out tasting sweet? It seems very random, and I don’t think I am doing anything different. I used to cook them with a piecec of onion and thought maybe that was the culprit, so today I didn’t add anything but plain old water. I just tasted them, and they’re sweet! It’s not so bad in some dishes, but I definitely prefer my hummus without the sweet taste!

    1. Hi Trish, no I dont have any ideas. If you use the same brand of chickpeas, perhaps try another brand – hunt out some organic ones perhaps. If others have any ideas, please share them.

  15. my favorite is “tuno” – smash the cooked chickpeas with capers, red onion, celery, herbs, salt + pepper, olive oil, balsamic and wildwood aioli (aka vegan mayo w/ garlic). MMMM! eat on french bread with tomatoes and lettuce or with crackers. it is the shit.

  16. In the words of my father, “Good Food, Good Feet; Good God , Lets Eat!” In other words, I am pleased with your presentation and the many responses it attracted. I am well advised.

  17. Hi there…

    purine is the amino acid (end form of protein) in most of the legume that will cause/trigger the inflammation of patient with acid uric condition <-athritis.

    so, conclusion…chickpea is healthy.

  18. Hi, do you have to soak? I bought chickpeas today and am craving a chickpea dish but apparently I must soak overnight. Why can’t one just boil them straight away? What would happen?
    Many thanks!

    1. you can boil straight away but they are much buttery and creamy if you soak first. Actually you can let them soak for several days, it improves the flavour.

  19. Hey! I see there is some confusion about purines. Purines are NOT part of proteins (or amino acids… proteins are made out of amino acids). Puries are part of DNA. There are 4 DNA bases A,T,G, and C. A and T match, and G and C match. That being said, DNA bases fall into one of two categories, purines and pyrimidines. Purines have two cyclic rings, while pyrimidines have one. Purines are A and G, while pyrimidines are C and T.
    So… that quote is wrong in two dimensions. Purines have nothing to do with chickpeas, and chickpeas in fact contain a moderate amount of purines. (Good luck finding anything completely devoid of purines as implied… anything that is or was once living has DNA… and thus contains purines)

  20. Love chickpeas, just bought my first raw ones from local organic shop.Cant wait! Thanks for telling me how long to cook, didnt have a clue! Yummy, think Ill leave for a few days soaking in my fridge dont need till Friday so alls well:) Thanks for your info Ganga108

  21. so i just soaked some chickpeas for 20-21 hours, but did not have them in the fridge. does this mean i should not eat them?

    1. Well, Dee, I guess it depends on the weather. You will know by looking at them – do they smell ok? Do they look Ok? If you do use them I would rinse them several times in changes of water first. Good luck!

  22. After 3 days or so of soaking they might sprout, then you eat them raw. My mother does this with other legumes to feed her parrots with. She rinses them and changes the water twice a day to stop them going moldy, some parrot owners put a bit a bleach in so they don’t have to do that but that’s obviously crazy…

  23. “they have a higher fat content, which makes them more caloric; they are therefore not what one wants during a diet”
    fat is rarely the problem with people on a diet…Carb;s Carb’s Carb’s!! are your enemy.
    Without going into details, research and understand this common misconception on DrMercola’s

  24. Hi there! I was wondering about defrosting frozen chickpeas and making hummus. Do i just take them out and leave them in the fridge to defrost? And if i make hummus the following day how long is it ok for? Or if i want to use in a salad can i just take out, defrost in the fridge and use in a salad for 2-3 days?

    1. chickpeas are dried ingredients and therefore last a long time if they are stored well. But yours are changing colour, and so it would be best to discard them.

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