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|White and green chickpeas|
|White and green chickpeas|
The chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is a legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Its seeds are high in protein. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes: 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.
Other common names for the species include garbanzo bean, ceci bean, channa and Bengal gram.
The name "chickpea" traces back through the French chiche to cicer, Latin for ‘chickpea’ (from which the Roman cognomen Cicero was taken). The Oxford English Dictionary lists a 1548 citation that reads, "Cicer may be named in English Cich, or ciche pease, after the Frenche tongue." The dictionary cites "Chick-pea" in the mid-18th century; the original word in English taken directly from French was chich, found in print in English in 1388.
The word garbanzo came to English as "calavance" in the 17th century, from Old Spanish (perhaps influenced by Old Spanish garroba or algarroba), though it came to refer to a variety of other beans (cf. Calavance). This word is still in use in Latin America and Spain to designate chickpeas. The Portuguese (?) arvanço has suggested to some that the origin of the word garbanzo is in the Greek erebinthos. But the Oxford English Dictionary notes that some scholars doubt this; it also mentions a possible origination in the word garbantzu, from Basque — a non-Indo-European tongue, believed to be one of the oldest languages in Europe — in which it is a compound of garau, seed + antzu, dry.
Domesticated chickpeas have been found in the aceramic levels of Jericho (PPNB) along with Cayönü in Turkey and in Neolithic pottery at Hacilar, Turkey. They were found in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BCE) at Thessaly, Kastanas, Lerna and Dimini, Greece. In southern France Mesolithic layers in a cave at L'Abeurador, Aude have yielded wild chickpeas carbon dated to 6790±90 BCE.
By the Bronze Age, chickpeas were known in Italy and Greece. In classical Greece, they were called erébinthos and eaten as a staple, a dessert, or consumed raw when young. The Romans knew several varieties such as venus, ram, and punic chickpeas. They were both cooked down into a broth and roasted as a snack. The Roman gourmet Apicius gives several recipes for chickpeas. Carbonized chickpeas have been found at the Roman legion fort at Neuss (Novaesium), Germany in layers from the first century CE, along with rice.
Chickpeas are mentioned in Charlemagne's Capitulare de villis (about 800 CE) as cicer italicum, as grown in each imperial demesne. Albertus Magnus mentions red, white and black varieties. Nicholas Culpeper noted "chick-pease or cicers" are less "windy" than peas and more nourishing. Ancient people also associated chickpeas with Venus because they were said to offer medical uses such as increasing sperm and milk, provoking menstruation and urine and helping to treat kidney stones. "White cicers" were thought to be especially strong and helpful.
In 1793, ground-roast chickpeas were noted by a German writer as a substitute for coffee in Europe. In the First World War, they were grown for this use in some areas of Germany. They are still sometimes brewed instead of coffee.
Sequencing of the chickpea genome has been completed for 90 chickpea genotypes, including several wild species. A collaboration of 20 research organizations, led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) identified more than 28,000 genes and several million genetic markers. Scientists expect this work will lead to the development of superior varieties. The new research will benefit the millions of developing country farmers who grow chickpea as a source of much needed income, as well as for its ability to add nitrogen to the soil in which it grows. Production is growing rapidly across the developing world, especially in West Asia where production has grown four-fold over the past 30 years. India is by far the world largest producer but is also the largest importer.
The plant grows to between 20–50 cm (8–20 inches) high and has small feathery leaves on either side of the stem. Chickpeas are a type of pulse, with one seedpod containing two or three peas. It has white flowers with blue, violet or pink veins. Chickpeas need a subtropical or tropical climate with more than 400 millimetres (16 in) of annual rain. They can be grown in a temperate climate but yields will be much lower.
There are three main kinds of chickpea:
The Desi (meaning 'country' or 'local' in Hindi) is also known as Bengal gram or kala chana (black chickpea in both Hindi and Urdu) or chhola boot. Kabuli (meaning 'from Kabul' in Hindi, since they were thought to have come from Afghanistan when first seen in India) or safed chana is the kind widely grown throughout the Mediterranean and the Indian Subcontinent. Desi is likely the earliest form since it closely resembles seeds found both on archaeological sites and the wild plant ancestor (Cicer reticulatum) of domesticated chickpeas, which only grows in southeast Turkey, where it is believed to have originated. Desi chickpeas have a markedly higher fiber content than Kabulis and hence a very low glycemic index which may make them suitable for people with blood sugar problems. The desi type is used to make Chana Dal, which is a split chickpea with the skin removed.
An uncommon black chickpea "ceci neri" is grown only in Puglia, Italy. These chickpeas are larger and blacker than the desi "kala chana" variety.
Green Chickpeas are also known as Harbhara/Harbara (हरभरा) in India (especially in the state of Maharashtra). Chana Dal is also called as Harbara Dal (हरभरा डाळ). Tender/immature harbara with skin is roasted on the coal. After roasting it well it is served by removing the skin. Commonly called as Hula (हुळा) in Marathi. Generally Harbara (हरभरा) produced in Maharashtra is Green. White gram is referred as Kabuli Chana (काबुली चणा).
Mature chickpeas can be cooked and eaten cold in salads, cooked in stews, ground into a flour called gram flour (also known as chickpea flour and besan and used frequently in Indian cuisine), ground and shaped in balls and fried as falafel, stirred into a batter and baked to make farinata or panelle.
In the Iberian Peninsula, chickpeas are very popular: In Portugal they are often used in hot dishes with bacalhau and in soup. In Spain they are often used cold in different tapas and salads, as well as in cocido madrileño. In Egypt, chickpeas are used as a topping for Kushari.
Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas, which are often cooked and ground into a paste and mixed with tahini, sesame seed paste, the blend called hummus bi tahini, or chickpeas are roasted, spiced, and eaten as a snack, such as leblebi. By the end of the 20th century, hummus had emerged as part of the American culinary fabric. By 2010, 5% of Americans consumed hummus on a regular basis, and it was present in 17% of American households.
Some varieties of chickpeas can be popped and eaten like popcorn.
Chickpeas and Bengal grams are used to make curries and are one of the most popular vegetarian foods in the Indian Subcontinent and in diaspora communities of many other countries. Popular dishes in Indian cuisine are made with chickpea flour, such as Mirchi Bajji and Mirapakaya bajji Telugu. In India, as well as in the Levant, unripe chickpeas are often picked out of the pod and eaten as a raw snack and the leaves are eaten as a green vegetable in salads.
Chickpea flour is used to make "Burmese tofu" which was first known among the Shan people of Burma. The flour is used as a batter to coat various vegetables and meats before frying, such as with panelle, a chickpea fritter from Sicily. Chickpea flour is used to make the Mediterranean flatbread socca and a patty called panisse in Provence, southern France, made of cooked chickpea flour, poured into saucers, allowed to set, cut in strips, and fried in olive oil, often eaten during Lent.
In the Philippines, garbanzo beans preserved in syrup are eaten as sweets and in desserts such as halo-halo. Ashkenazi Jews traditionally serve whole chickpeas at a Shalom Zachar celebration for baby boys.
Dried chickpeas need a long cooking time (1–2 hours) but will easily fall apart when cooked longer. If soaked for 12–24 hours before use, cooking time can be shortened by around 30 minutes. To make smooth hummus the cooked chickpeas must be processed while quite hot, since the skins disintegrate only when hot.
Because of their high protein content, chick peas are increasingly used as animal feed.
India is the world leader in chickpea (Bengal gram) production, and produces some fifteen times as much as the second-largest producer, Australia. Other key producers are Pakistan, Turkey, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Iran.
|Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization |
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||686 kJ (164 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||7.6 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Chickpeas are an excellent source of the essential nutrients, iron, folate, phosphorus, protein and dietary fiber (USDA nutrient table). Chickpeas are low in fat and most of this is polyunsaturated. The nutrient profile of the smaller variety appears to be different, especially for fiber content which is higher than in the larger light colored variety.
One hundred grams of mature boiled chickpeas contain 164 calories, 2.6 grams of fat (of which only 0.27 grams is saturated), 7.6 grams of dietary fiber and 8.9 grams of protein. Chickpeas also provide several essential nutrients in moderate amounts of 10-19% of the Daily Value (table).
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