What are some substitutes for chickpeas

Cook with chickpeas

Tips and tricks for the versatile legume

Chickpeas, real chickpeas or field peas - whatever you call them, one thing is certain: These small legumes are incredibly versatile and simply delicious. They are particularly popular in India, Pakistan and the Near and Middle East, where they play the main role in many dishes: for example in the spicy Chana Masala (a chickpea “stew” with onions, coriander, garlic, chilli, ginger and garam Masala), in crispy pakora (vegetables, cheese or meat fried in a batter made of chickpeas, which are served as a snack in India), in creamy hummus (chickpea puree made from cooked chickpeas with tahini) or in deep-fried falafel (deep-fried balls made from pureed chickpeas with Herbs and spices). But the chickpea can do much, much more.

Chickpeas are legumes. More precisely, they are the edible seeds of the legume or legume plant family, which also includes peas, lentils, soybeans and peanuts. Chickpeas are considered to be one of the first legumes to be grown in the world. They are in fine, green pods that grow from the plant's delicate lavender or white flowers and turn brown before harvest.

Many are particularly familiar with the rather large, beige chickpea, which is covered by a transparent skin. However, there are two varieties that are widely used: Kabuli are the larger, beige chickpeas. The Desi variety, on the other hand, is darker, smaller and yellow on the inside. You may even have seen black or green chickpeas in the supermarket. What kind of varieties are they?

Black chickpeas are rare. They only grow in parts of India and the Italian region of Puglia. The black chickpeas from India are called Kala Chana and are smaller than Kabuli chickpeas. The black chickpeas from Italy are called Ceci Neri and are large and very dark. They say they taste a little more nutty than the common Kabuli and Desi varieties. However, you can process them in the same way - and you also get something for the eye!

Green chickpeas are young, fresh chickpeas. They are harvested before the pod turns brown. However, they are not that easy to find. Sometimes you can get them blanched and flash frozen in the supermarket.

Are Chickpeas Good For You?

Chickpeas are packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, folic acid, and iron. Because they contain so many proteins, they are great as meat substitutes. Tip: Due to the way they are processed, canned chickpeas only have half the nutrient content of dried and conventionally prepared chickpeas. So if you want the whole load of nutrients, it's best to cook them yourself. This also has the advantage that you can determine the amount of salt yourself. We'll tell you here what other reasons speak for using dried beans.

Dried chickpeas or canned chickpeas?

Can't decide whether you should really take the time to soak the dried chickpeas or just open a can? Don't worry, there are plenty of reasons to have both in stock.

Prepare the dried chickpeas

Just the thought of soaking the chickpeas the night before makes you sweat? Why actually? It only takes a few minutes and with the prospect of the creamiest hummus, tenderly braised chickpeas and homemade falafel, it's definitely worth the work!

Tip: When buying dried chickpeas, take a critical look at the packaging or the food dispenser: The beans should be whole, undamaged and completely dry.

Soak, boil and save chickpeas properly

Step 1: Soak the chickpeas in a large bowl of cold water. The water should be at least 5 cm higher than the chickpeas. You can also add some baking powder: This counteracts hard water and not only makes the chickpeas nice and soft, but also easier to digest. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let it soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 2: Drain the chickpeas, rinse them carefully and transfer them to a saucepan with plenty of salted water. Do you want to refine it with special flavors? Then cook them with spices or herbs like bay leaves, cumin, black peppercorns, cloves of garlic or turmeric.

Step 3: Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 60–90 minutes, until the chickpeas are as soft as you want them to be. Allow to cool completely before storing.

Step 4: If you don't plan to use the chickpeas for a few days, transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. Or would you prefer to use them in small quantities later? Then gently pat them dry with paper towels and freeze them in resealable freezer bags. It is best to fill them in a single layer in flat bags. This way, the chickpeas won't stick to each other later and you can portion them out better.

You can easily make a new ingredient with dried chickpeas: chickpea flour. Sure, the flour is also available in the supermarket, but you can also easily make it yourself with the right kitchen utensils.

Homemade chickpea flour: Process the dried chickpeas into a floury powder with a food processor. Then sift through a fine sieve into a bowl. If you have a spice grinder or coffee grinder, grind the chickpea flour a second time until it becomes a very fine texture. Sieve again and store in an airtight container.

Prepare canned chickpeas

I almost always have a can of chickpeas in stock: as a hearty ingredient for salads and curries, when things need to be quick in the evening during the week. Also fried with all kinds of spices, they are ideal as a hearty snack or as a topping for soups and toasted bread. Since they are already cooked, the preparation is limited: just open the can, pour it off (more on that later) and rinse.

Tip: No matter what dish you use them for, remember that canned chickpeas are already salted and that they don't like long cooking times.

As a new discovery (probably from 2014), Aquafaba has paved its way directly into many, mainly vegan, dessert and cocktail recipes. What is meant is the thick cooking water from canned chickpeas and beans, which is often used as a substitute for protein.

You can use whipped aquafaba to make simple meringues or mousse, use it as a frothy cocktail garnish or stir into cake and muffin batter, which should be particularly light or juicy. Try it! Then in the future you will probably think twice about simply draining the chickpeas over the sink ...

Turn to the stove with these chickpea recipes

Whatever you plan to do with your chickpeas, it's sure to be delicious. With the mild taste and creamy texture, you can cook so many hearty dishes that will also fill you up. Here are some of our favorite chickpea recipes.

Hummus and dips with chickpeas

Soups and stews with chickpeas

Fried or baked chickpeas

Crispy topping for salads

Published on October 6, 2018