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How To Cook Chickpeas

Have you always wondered how to cook chickpeas? Chickpeas are versatile enough to be used in a variety of different recipes, soups, stews, dips, or, roasted alone.

bowl of chickpeas

Why Cook With Chickpeas? 

If you like vegetarian, Mediterranean and ethnic dishes, you probably enjoy eating chickpeas.  Having them as a hummus dip or spread, frying them into a crispy falafel, adding them to a vegetable soup or stew, or simply tossing them into your salad – chickpeas are delicious, versatile and easy to incorporate into our everyday menu.  

The mild, nutty, and slightly sweet flavour also makes them a fun, savoury snack when roasted.

What’s more, chickpeas are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, and starch that’s low on the glycemic index, making them a great protein and carbohydrate substitute for vegans and those watching their sugar and weight.

It’s a good idea to have them in the kitchen as a staple.  You may already have a can or two sitting in your cupboard.  The great thing is that chickpeas last a long time – up 2 to 3 years, to be exact.  They’re also very inexpensive.

Dried Chickpeas Vs. Canned

Canned or jarred chickpeas have already been pre-cooked, so they can be eaten straight from the can.  Just be sure to rinse them first to get rid of the aquafaba, or the water in which they were cooked during the canning process.  This slimy, viscous liquid carries lots of sodium and additives commonly incorporated during the canning process. 

tinned chickpeas vs dried chickpeas

But did you know you can cook chickpeas from scratch?  Buying them dry and cooking them yourself will let you achieve the precise flavour and texture you desire, without unwanted preservatives.    

Most people prefer canned over dried chickpeas because of the time and effort it takes to prepare dried ones.  But the benefit of cooking the beans yourself is that it lets you control the amount of salt that goes into them, as well as achieve the right texture that you desire.  

If you’re planning to make hummus, for example, you’d want your chickpeas soft and tender.  If you’re thinking of tossing them into a salad or adding them to a stew, you’d want them slightly al dente.

Buying dried chickpeas will give you the best value for your money.  You’ll end up saving about half the cost you’d spend if you were to buy them pre-cooked in cans.

Buying Chickpeas

When buying dried chickpeas, always make sure they’re fresh.  Packaged beans that have been sitting on the shelf for a long time, whether at the store or in your cupboard, can go stale.  Those won’t cook as tenderly. 

If you find a store that sells pulses in bulk bins and the turnover is quite fast, those will probably be the best quality beans that you can get.

At most supermarkets, you’ll find chickpeas at the canned or bulk foods section.  Chickpeas are a part of the legume family which includes peanuts, lentils, and lima, kidney, and fava beans.  So you’ll likely find them in ethnic, organic and vegetarian food stores that sell such items in bulk.

Similarly known as garbanzo beans, Bengal gram, or Egyptian peas, chickpeas come in two common varieties:  desi and Kabuli.

Desi chickpeas are small with thick, rough seed coats.  They’re often lime green or black, speckled with yellow interiors.  They’re most usually grown in India, the Middle East, and Mexico.

The Kabuli variety are big, smooth, and lighter in colour, usually light tan.  They have thin skin and a mild, nutty, and slightly creamy flavour.  They are mostly grown in Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa, Canada, and South America.

Chickpea flour, also known as besan or gram flour, is made from different varieties of ground chickpeas, raw or roasted.  It’s a staple ingredient in Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and other cuisines in the Indian subcontinent.  When added with water and olive oil, chickpea flour can make a good pancake batter.

How Long To Soak Chickpeas

dried chickpeas soaking in a bowl of water

Since dried chickpeas are very hard, they need to be soaked first.  Doing so will not only soften them before cooking, but it will also make them more digestible.  Chickpeas, like most pulses, contain a naturally occurring phytic acid which makes the beans hard for our stomachs to break down.  Soaking reduces this acid significantly.

Depending on how much time you have on your hands, there are 2 ways of soaking dried chickpeas:

The Long Soak

  • Place chickpeas in a large bowl with cold water. 
  • Dried beans expand to over double their size when soaked, so make sure the water level is a few inches higher than the beans and your bowl is large and deep enough for soaking. 
  • Cover and soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.

The Quick Soak

  • Place the beans in a pot with water.
  • Cover and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the chickpeas to soak in that hot water for 1 hour.
  • Drain the water and rinse the beans.  They’re now ready for cooking.

How To Cook Dried Chickpeas Without Soaking Them

As a rule of thumb, dried chickpeas triple in size when cooked.  So 1 cup (200g) of dried beans will yield 3 cups (600g) of cooked beans. 

In a pot or large saucepan, immerse the chickpeas in water. 

Bring them to a boil, then simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the consistency you want.

If you’re going to use them right away especially to make hummus, simmer for 90 minutes. 

If you’re going to add them to soup, stew, or salad, or else freeze them for later use, cook for just 60 minutes for a firmer batch.

You can keep the lid on or off depending on your desired texture. 

Without a lid, the chickpeas will turn out firm – perfect for salads and stews.  With a lid that’s slightly ajar to let steam escape, the beans will turn out softer and creamier – ideal for hummus.

Remember to keep an eye on the water level.  As your beans cook, the beans will continue to expand a little.  Add water as necessary to keep them fully submerged.

For flavour, you may add salt, garlic cloves, an onion, celery, bay leaves, bouillon, or any spice or aromatic you desire.

To know when the beans are cooked, you can scoop one out and see if it’s soft to the bite.  Or you can press one against the side of the pot and see if it mashes easily.

Once cooked, drain the chickpeas and let them cool.  If you want to store them in the refrigerator, place them in an airtight container or freezer bag.  They’ll stay fresh for 3 to 4 days.

If you’d like to freeze them for later use, pat them dry with paper towels first.  You’ll want to remove as much moisture as possible so it won’t turn into frost and clump the peas together. 

Afterwards, place the chickpeas in freezer bags, spreading them out in flat, single layers to prevent them from bunching and sticking together.

How To Cook Chickpeas In A Pressure Cooker

You can cook both soaked and unsoaked chickpeas in a pressure cooker. 

For best results, follow the instructions of your pressure cooker’s manufacturer.  But generally, soaked beans will cook within 12 minutes, plus the time it takes for the pressure to build up and vent. 

Unsoaked chickpeas will take longer, around 45 minutes.  Just be sure to rinse the dry beans first and remove any dirt or stems you may find.

In addition to your desired seasonings, add some oil – around a teaspoon of olive oil for every 2 cups of chickpeas.  Doing so would prevent foam from forming in the liquid and potentially interfering with the pressure valve.

How to Cook Chickpeas in a Slow Cooker

If you’re using a slow cooker, cover soaked beans in 6 cups of water.  Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 hours, with or without your desired spices.

How To Cook Canned Chickpeas

First, drain the liquid from your can of chickpeas.  Then, using a strainer, rinse the beans under running water. 

Pour the beans into a pot or saucepan and submerge them in water.  Add seasonings and a bit of oil, around a teaspoon, if desired.  Heat for 5 minutes on a stovetop over medium heat.   The chickpeas are ready for serving or storing for later use.

Roasting Tinned Chickpeas

You can also roast canned chickpeas in a microwave, air fryer or regular oven to make a crunchy, delicious snack. 

First, drain and rinse the chickpeas as usual.  Then, place them on a tray or dish with a paper or dish towel underneath.  With another towel, pat them dry.  Moist beans won’t turn crispy when roasted in an oven.

Next, transfer the chickpeas to a microwave-safe plate or oven tray.  Toss them with olive oil, salt, paprika, and any desired seasonings, blending thoroughly with your hands or a spoon.  Then, spread the beans out in a single layer to ensure even cooking.  

Microwave the chickpeas for 3 to 5 minutes or roast in a pre-heated regular oven for 20 to 30 minutes. 

Then, using cooking gloves, take out the dish or tray and see if they’ve been browned to your desired level. 

If not, shake the beans or gently stir again with a spoon to redistribute the moisture and seasonings, and to further ensure the beans cook evenly. 

Microwave again for another 3 minutes or roast in the oven for another 10.  

Once cooked, take them out and leave them on the counter to cool.  At this point, you can add more spices if you desire.

Roasted chickpeas are crispiest and best eaten warm.  They start to turn chewy as they cool, but are just as good – even addictive.

Store leftovers in an airtight jar or container at room temperature.  Do not refrigerate.  They will stay good for about 2 weeks.

Chickpea Recipes

Moroccan Chickpea Soup 
How To Make Hummus
Beetroot Hummus Recipe
Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry

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