Try these simple chickpea recipes for delicious starters or main courses.
Chickpeas (or garbanzos) are a delight to cook with. They have a distinctive and nutty flavour of their own and yet they are ideal as a flavour-carrier because they are subtle.
There is a wealth of excellent chickpea recipes to delight vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters, alike. Chickpeas are very rich in valuable nutrients. They are a good source of potassium and vitamin E. They contain around 9% protein and the protein is high quality because all 8 amino acids needed for health are present. This means that chickpeas are a very valuable food for vegetarians and vegans - and for anyone who is trying to cut down on meat.
Many people now believe that a low meat or no meat diet is an essential part of green living. This is because meat tends to have a high carbon cost. Too much meat is not so good for our health either. So this is another reason why I have selected these tasty garbanzo recipes.
Chickpeas grow in the middle East and some of the classic dishes originate from there. Unfortunately they do not grow in the chilly north - so if you want a local variant, fava beans or broad beans are your best option.
Chickpeas are legumes which are quite rich in proteins and oils. Chickpea flour has the useful ability to supplant eggs in many recipes. You can even make pancakes with chickpea flour (also called baisen flour or gram flour).
Recent research has shown that darker coloured chickpeas have even more dietary value than lighter varieties. They contain as much as 13 times more polyphenols than pale coloured garbanzos. This gives them increased anti-oxidant power - good for longevity and prevention of disease.
Here are a few simple chickpea recipes to whet your appetite.
This is the classic starter in many parts of Mediterranean Europe and the Middle East. It is suitable for vegans - and anyone who likes delicious, healthy food!
You need around 1lb or 500gm of whole chickpeas. You can open a tin or you can soak dried beans for an hour in very hot water and then boil them until tender. This can take some time and a pressure cooker is an invaluable aid!
500 gm chickpeas
1 whole lemon, squeezed
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 large tablespoonfuls of tahini
3 tablespoonfuls of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
These are approximate quantities only. Adjust the recipe to taste as you go on. Some people like hummus relatively dry and low in oil, others like a rich garlicky flavour. It's your call. If you mix your own hummus you can produce a dish which is quite like that served in good restaurants and is packed with flavour. You'll also notice how second-rate most supermarket versions of hummus are by comparison!
If you want to make a low fat hummus, use less tahini and skip the olive oil. You can add water instead to improve the consistency, as without oil the mix can end up rather stodgy. Garbanzo beans are low in fats (around 4%) and contain useful amounts of Omega 3 and Omega 6.
Place the cooked and drained chickpeas in a food processor. Add all the ingredients and whiz for several minutes until a rich and even texture is attained. Check for flavour and texture. Add more oil, lemon, tahini or garlic, as you feel.
When you are happy with the taste and texture, spoon the mixture into a shallow serving bowl and garnish it with fresh coriander or parsley. Serve with hot pita bread and olives.
There are lots of fine variations you can do with this chickpea recipe. Here are a couple of tasty ideas: you can add in a little fresh young spinach or you can roast pine nuts under the grill and stir them in. This produces a wonderful dense, nutty taste - very moreish!
If supplies for chickpeas are hard to find, you can always find them on Amazon.
If you have any chickpea recipes of your own which you would like to share, please use the Add Your Tips page.
Falafel is perhaps the essential finger food of the Middle East. It is also a boon for vegans and vegetarians as it is relatively rich in proteins and can easily replace meat when served with pita and salad, for example.
You can make falafel with cooked chickpeas, or with chickpea flour (gram flour) or you can use fava beans. You could also try other legumes if you like but the distinctive taste of falafel might be lost.
I prefer falafel made with whole, chopped chickpeas because they have a more interesting texture than falafel made with gram flour.
Chickpea recipes for meat eaters are great because they offer a tasty way to make meat go further. You can also use cheap cuts to add flavour to an otherwise simple dish.
Cocido is a traditional Spanish dish made with chickpeas and a variety of meats. I first encountered it years ago in southern Spain in a small cantina. I was amazed at this wonderful, tasty and wholesome dish served up in what appeared to be the Spanish equivalent of greasy spoon cafe. What I particularly liked about it was that it was so popular with the local people. It seemed like everyone was there!
In Britain if you go to the local Joe's cafe you are likely to find burgers, chips, sausages and pasties. High fat food all the way! This Spanish dish is far more balanced and wholesome and can contain good quantities of fresh vegetables.
The recipe below is my own take on this dish - simplified for modern life! Traditional cocido can be a lengthy dish to prepare.
The choice of meats in this dish can be varied to suit your pocket and the occasion. For normal work-a-day meals I like to prepare cocido from a small piece of meat and include plenty of vegetables.
10 oz / 500 gm chickpeas - pre-cooked
1 lb braising steak
1/2lb pork belly or streaky bacon
3 or 4 carrots, chopped in chunks
1 large onion with two or three cloves pressed into it
2 leeks chopped
1 lb potatoes
1 savoy cabbage (about a pound or more) chopped in chunks
You can also add any other meat you like. This is a peasant dish where people used what they had to hand - so different types of meat are fine together. Add meat bones too if you like as the marrow adds valuable flavour. There's not a whole lot of nutrition but if you like fat then this is a way to go! Pigs trotters are often part of the dish in Spain, as is beef shank. In Spain a kind of ground beef is added for extra bulk and flavour.
The vegetables are served separately from the chickpeas and meat in the traditional recipe.
Fit all the meat into a large stockpot and cover it with water. Add the bay leaves and the onion studded with a couple of cloves. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently.
After about 1 1/2 hours take the meat off the bone and chop it into medium sized chunks. Add the pre-cooked chickpeas.
Add all the vegetables and continue cooking until the vegetable are tender.
These easy chickpea recipes are just a small part of green bean cuisine! There are other bean recipes in the Green Recipebook section of the site. If you would like to add your own recipe to this collection of easy chickpea recipes please use the Add Your Tips pages. All contributions most welcome!