Chickpeas

Garbanzo beans are also known by which other term?

And the answer: chickpeas.

Photo courtesy: lastingredient.com

Garbanzo beans and chickpeas are the same type of legume, known in Latin as the Cicer arietinum. Common in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines, the chickpea is the world's second most widely grown legume, after the soybean. The chickpea is probably best known worldwide as the main ingredient in hummus.

As the world's second most widely grown legume, chickpeas have a rich, delicious history in cultures across the globe. Since the ninth millennium BC, chickpeas have been grown and eaten in the Middle East, parts of Africa and in India. The chickpea is one of the eight founder crops of the origins of agriculture on our planet. Quite some power for such a small legume, is it not?

Though we know it well as the chickpea or garbanzo bean, chickpeas are known by many different names all over the world. Other names include bengal grams, egyptian peas, ceci beans and kabuli chana. These little legumes also come in a variety of different types and colors, not just the beige variety we are used to seeing in cans. Chickpeas can also be black, green, red and brown.

Interestingly, from their lengthy history of cultivation chickpeas bring interesting cultural association and meanings. For example, ancient Romans associated chickpeas with the Goddess Venus. Pliny the Elder, a philosopher and author from ancient Rome, mentioned chickpeas in his writings, noting that the legumes were routinely offered to Venus– the Roman Goddess of love, beauty, sex, and fertility. Their association with good health apparently was enough to devote the legume to her name, and they were consequently consumed at any gathering in her honor.

Chickpeas, of course, are also extremely versatile in their consumption. They may be added to salads, soups, and stews, made into meatballs, roasted to become a tasty snack, or even mashed and used in baking as a replacement for flour (to name a few). Check out this hummus recipe for a take on a delicious classic, or this stew recipe for a tasty dinner.





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Henry VIII
Yerevan, Armenia
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