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Tinned Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Gram Flour: Cooking, Baking and Nutrition of Chick Peas
How Do You Cook With Chick Peas?
Are you interested in learning to cook with pulses? Chick peas – also known as garbanzo beans in the U.S. – are a nutritious and healthful option amongst the bean family. They are also a useful household ingredient which can be cooked in a wide variety of ways and add taste and variety to your culinary dishes.
Chick peas are small (about 0.75 of a centimetre), round and pale yellow. They require overnight soaking prior to cooking, and also need the initial fast boil (for at least ten minutes) common to many pulses in order to destroy potentially harmful proteins in the bean. Their flavour after cooking is savoury, mild and delicate, and combines well with a variety of other foods, e.g. mint, yoghurt, garlic, peppers etc.
Nutritional Content of Chick Peas
Do chick peas have a good nutritional content? According to the NutritionData website, a 164 gram serving provides 15 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of fat content, making them a useful ingredient in a low-fat diet. As far as micronutrients are concerned, they are notable for a useful iron and calcium content.1 As with most pulses, chick peas can be combined with a grain, e.g. bread, corn or rice, to provide a complete protein, i.e. one with all the essential amino acids required for building and repairing in the cells of the body. When you use or cook with chick peas protein, carbohydrate and a multitude of vitamins are instantly added to your diet.
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Delicious Falafel & Houmous
Chick peas are also used to produce gram flour, which is widely used in several ethnic cuisines e.g. Greek and Indian cooking. Gram flour is a key ingredient in falafel, the delicious deep-fried spiced savoury balls found in Greek cooking. There’s nothing quite as yummy as a falafel pita bread with plenty of mayo and salad! Gram flour is also useful for making deep-fried tempura – that’s deep-fried vegetables, a fabulous Japanese side-dish. Wheat flour is traditional but gram flour will do the job.
Chick peas are an essential ingredient in houmous, another Greek dish. This is savoury chick pea paste with lemon juice and garlic. I cannot begin to describe how gorgeous really well-made houmous is, but if you have never tasted it, go out and get some now! It is a fabulous dip, and wonderful when combined with raw vegetables, chips and bread.
Be Careful Cooking Chick Peas
Personally I use gram flour to make yummy savoury pancakes, but I will sound a note of caution on this subject. While studying for a toxicology college module, I read that eating chick peas which have not been sufficiently thoroughly cooked may lead to the disease of lathyrism later on, especially if a person is experiencing under-nutrition and poor diet generally. I think this is a risk with pancakes. (You know how they never turn out the same way twice, sometimes well done, sometimes a little gunky in the middle). I am inclined to risk it myself, especially as I’m not worried about experiencing food hardship and shortage in the near future, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for anyone else. (However, the issue may be with confusion over both edible and inedible pulses being referred to as chickpeas).2
Not everyone is as foolhardy as me. Cook your chickpeas and gram flour properly and thoroughly! And then enjoy them – ‘cause they’re delicious!
1. NutritionData. "Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt". http://www.nutritiondata.com 2009. (16/02/2010). <http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4326/2>
2. Peary, W., Peavy, W., Ph.D. "Natural Toxins in Sprouted Seeds: Separating Myth from Reality." http://www.living-foods.com 1998. (16/02/2010). <http://www.living-foods.com/articles/sproutmyths.html>