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Chick peas are perhaps better known by their name garbanzo beans. They are a roundish, beige to light green members of the legume family grown primarily in part of West Asia, India, and in the Mediterranean. Most are familiar with chick peas as either used whole in salads, or ground up to make the popular Middle Eastern dish hummus.
These legumes also can be ground up and used as a flour called gram flour. They may be used in this fashion to make falafel, or to make a variant of tofu made by the people of Burma. It is usually known as Burmese tofu.
Chick peas are also a frequent ingredient in Italian dishes. They may be used to make pasta and beans. They are often added to marinated vegetables and may be part of an antipasto dish. They may also be recognizable as a staple in three-bean salad, which is comprised of green beans, kidney beans and chick peas and pickled with vinegar or stored in vinegar and oil.
A serving of chick peas has about 4 ounces (113.39 g) or half a cup has about 17 grams of dietary fiber and 19 grams of protein. They are also considered more digestible than most other beans making them a better choice for people who suffer from excessive flatulence after consuming beans.
Chick peas are considered a starchy carbohydrate and are a great staple for people with diabetes. They do not produce high glucose in the body when consumed. Thus they rate well on the glycemic index.
There are actually two forms of chick peas. The Desi type has a darker color and tends to be smaller. The Kabuli type is more familiar to the American consumer with a lighter color and a softer coat. Of the two, the Desi is considered a better dietary choice, but is harder to find in the US.
Kabuli chick peas are quite easy to find, especially canned. One can hardly fail to notice their presence next to many other varieties of canned beans in most grocery stores. Because they have only a slight flavor, they are excellent for mixing with other ingredients or spices, and make for a healthful addition to a variety of dishes.