Soak slowly + cook slowly + cool slowly = the best way to cook dried chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Not too hard, right?!
Cooking with chickpeas originated in the Mediterranean / Middle East area, but these delicious and versatile beans are now found in cuisine around the world. These beans can be used a variety of ways in recipes, and work well with so many types of flavours.
Health benefits of chickpeas
Since chickpeas are high in protein, they can make an excellent meat substitute for vegetarian and vegan dishes. Chickpeas are also a good source of fiber, meaning they can keep ones appetite sated longer. With a low glycemic index, chickpeas support steady blood glucose levels, and their combination of nutrients means they may help protect against chronic health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Plus chickpeas are very affordable. What’s there not to like!
Some ways to cook dried chickpeas
There are many ways to cook dried chickpeas:
- 1 : SIMMER SLOWLY ON THE STOVE TOP IN A DUTCH OVEN OR OTHER HEAVY BOTTOMED POT
- Great if you don’t have a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker
- However it can be difficult to keep the pot at a constant low simmer
- Watch out for boiling the water off
- 2 : BAKE THE BEANS IN THE OVEN
- Infuses more flavour into the beans
- The beans texture is better
- 3 : COOK THEM IN A SLOW COOKER
- Great if you want to do other things at the same time
- No risk of boiling over, no risk of water boiling off
- Chickpeas have a nice consistent texture
- If you have less time, an electric pressure cooker is quicker
Tips for the perfect chickpeas
#1 Pre-soak in a brine
Pre-soaking is a very important step not to forget when cooking dried chickpeas, and a brining liquid is by far the best. The beans don’t absorb much saltiness, nor does it produce a tougher cooked bean. Instead, one gets a consistently cooked bean texture every time.
Pre-soaking also makes the beans easier to digest and promotes a faster cook time, so it’s worth taking a little extra time for this step.
Cover the beans with 5 cm’s of water, add a tablespoon salt and either (1) cover and soak over night, or (2) cover and simmer for 2 minutes, remove from the heat, cool for 1 hour and rinse well.
#2 Salt the water before final cooking
After soaking, rinse the chickpeas well with fresh water, place them in a pot with water for cooking, and add 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 3/4 teaspoon regular salt) for every 1 cup of dried chickpeas.
#3 Minimise foaming by keeping the water at a low simmer
When cooking dried chickpeas on the stovetop, foaming often happens in the early cooking stages. This can lead to the formation of air pockets in the beans, drying out the beans texture when cooked. If there’s any foaming, skim the surface of the water with a metal spoon, and reduce the heat.
#4 A pinch of baking soda
Dry climates, high altitudes, or water with a heavier metal content can all cause dried chickpeas from not softening enough during cooking. In these cases, adding a pinch of baking soda to the pre-soaking water helps. Baking soda promotes a tender bean by helping to dissolve their cellular walls. Use only 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per pound of dried beans, and be sure to thoroughly rinse the beans before cooking in fresh water.
Note: One may notice an unappealing chemical taste when using baking soda. Use it sparingly, or make hummus with the chickpeas when cooked this way, as usually this includes adding other flavours which may hide any residue tastes.
#5 Store-bought vegetable broth for the cooking liquid
If one’s water is hard, it may be that minerals in the water are leaving deposits on the beans preventing them from cooking. If the baking soda method doesn’t work, using store-bought vegetable broth for the cooking liquid instead of tap water can be a perfect trick.
Basic dried chickpeas recipes
Depending on their final use, one can add flavours to the cooking water such as garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and chilli.
- 500g dried chickpeas
- Tip the chickpeas into a bowl and sort through them, discarding any discoloured ones.
- Cover with cold water and leave to soak for 8-12 hrs.
- Drain the chickpeas and tip into a saucepan.
- Add cold water to come to about 8-10 cm above the chickpeas and bring to a boil.
- Turn down the heat and simmer for 45 mins – 1 hr, or until the chickpeas are tender. Drain well.
Canned chickpeas recipe
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 400g can chickpeas, drained
- chopped parsley, optional
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic.
- Cook for 1 min, then stir in the chickpeas.
- Season well and heat gently, stirring, until all the chickpeas are hot.
- Stir in the chopped parsley.