The chickpea originated in the Middle East about 7500 years ago and it is one of the earliest cultivated legumes. In classical Greece, they were called erebinthos («ερέβινθος») and played a big role in the everyday diet. Other common names for the species include garbanzo bean, ceci bean, channaand Bengal gram. There are two types of chickpeas: desi and kabuli. Desi contains smaller, darker seeds and have more of a rough coat. Kabuli is a larger, lighter colored bean with a smoother coat. Chickpeas come in a variety of colors, Green, black, brown and red, though the most popular and recognized color is beige.
Chickpeas, like other legumes, provide a valuable source of folate, iron, manganese, and protein. They are also a healthy source of complex carbohydrates and are low in fat. Most notably, chickpeas are high in dietary fiber. Chickpeas have one of the highest nutritional compositions of any dry edible legume. The chickpea’s average nutritional content is 22 percent protein, 67 percent total carbohydrates, 47 percent starch, 5 percent fat, 8 percent crude fiber, and 3.6percent ash. The fat (lipid) fraction is high in unsaturated fatty acids, primarily linoleicand oleic acids. Chickpea protein digestibility is also the highest among the dry edible legumes. Chickpeas are considered a cholesterol reducer due to their unsaturated fatty acid and fiber content, and they are also unique in their ability to moderate the rise in plasma glucose after meals.
They have a buttery texture and nutty taste. They can be cooked and eaten cold in salads, cooked in stews, ground and shaped in balls and fried as falafel. Chickpeas also make a great base for patties or vegetarian burgers. Dried chickpeas need a long cooking time (1-2 hours) but will easily fall apart when cooked longer. If soaked for 12-24 hours cooking time can be shortened by around 30 minutes.