Hearty hummus or crispy falafel: We know chickpeas mainly in oriental dishes. We explain what makes legumes so healthy and how best to store and cook them.
Chickpeas are grown all over the world, we mainly eat the light brown fruits from the Mediterranean region.
Chickpeas score with carbohydrates and proteins and are therefore a particularly valuable filler for vegetarians and vegans.
However, the legumes are by no means suitable for consumption raw.
Many know chickpeas from oriental cuisine: Hummus and falafel, for example, are prepared from the legumes. But where do chickpeas actually come from and how healthy are they?
Chickpeas: This is how the legumes are grown
Chickpeas belong to the legume family and are also known as “field peas”. However, they are not closely related to the small green peas.
Chickpeas are annual herbaceous plants that grow about a meter tall. The plant forms two angular, somewhat irregular seeds, which we later cook and consume as chickpeas. Chickpeas taste slightly nutty, but they are not differentiated by variety, but by the color of the seeds. The colors range from beige, brown, and black to red.
Chickpeas are said to have been cultivated in the Middle East for more than 8,000 years. The chickpeas that we can buy in Germany mostly come from the Mediterranean region. Today, however, the fruits are grown all over the world, particularly often in subtropical areas. And with good reason: the mostly light brown legumes are valuable sources of energy.
What makes chickpeas so healthy?
Chickpeas provide our body with protein and lots of carbohydrates, but hardly any fat. This makes them healthy energy suppliers. Due to the many carbohydrates, however, they are not exactly low in calories.
Chickpeas also have a lot of fiber and vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamins A, C and E. Chickpeas can also score points when it comes to minerals: they have a lot of iron, zinc and magnesium. Chickpeas and other legumes are a valuable source of protein, especially for people who eat vegetarian or vegan food.
Are chickpeas easy to digest?
Chickpeas have a lot of fiber, which keeps you full for a long time and generally promotes digestion. They also support intestinal health and thus the immune system. However, chickpeas also contain small amounts of the dietary fiber raffinose. The triple sugar can lead to gas formation in the intestine.
Sensitive people can therefore react to the legumes with flatulence. Cooking chickpeas with fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary, and thyme makes them even easier to digest.
Can you eat chickpeas raw?
Raw chickpeas contain the toxin phasin, which, however, breaks down when the seeds are cooked. Cooked chickpeas are therefore absolutely harmless, but you should never eat chickpeas raw.
Buy chickpeas, store and cook them properly
You can buy chickpeas dried or pre-cooked in jars. You can find the fruit in almost every supermarket, in organic markets and health food stores as well as in many drugstores.
Like all legumes, chickpeas can be dried for years. Keep them dry, cool and protected from light. If chickpeas are stored too warm, they can lose their colour. It is better not to eat pre-cooked chickpeas in a can after the best-before date has passed.
You have to soak dried chickpeas for at least twelve hours and then cook the soft chickpeas for around twenty minutes. You only have to cook the pre-cooked chickpeas for a few minutes.
Chickpeas in salads, curries, and bowls
You can prepare falafel yourself from the nutty-tasting chickpeas or use them to make hummus. Chickpeas also taste delicious in salads, curries, bowls, and stews or as vegan patties and give the dishes a slightly spicy note.
Tip: Roasted chickpeas are great as a snack between meals or as a crispy topping for soups and salads. Roast the chickpeas in the pan for a few minutes.
People with a gluten intolerance (celiac disease) can use chickpea flour as an alternative to wheat flour for baking. This can be used to prepare cakes and flatbread, for example.