Cooking chickpeas

Cooking chickpeas is simple but some aforethought is necessary. That's why we keep frozen packets in the freezer.

By Bernard Preston

These are the most delicious legumes to my way of thinking; they are the most popular source of protein in the whole world. Or, at least the most commonly used; a prime fillet steak is probably relished more highly.

Seriously, in a Western World which over indulges in red meat, with all the attendant consequences, we can learn a few lessons from the underdeveloped countries.

One cup of the cooked legume contains about a quarter of your daily protein needs.

The fibre is particularly valuable to the colon, making the stool soft and easy to pass; less bowel cancer, polyps and piles. Just as important it's been proven to have cholesterol lowering qualities. Diabetics who eat only one third of a cup per day have far better blood sugar control.

So it comes as no surprise that international heart, diabetic and cancer associations all recommend consuming them on a regular basis. Personally, I make hummus two or three times a week and eat this delicious food daily with a green salad.

Chickpeas, garbanzo bean recipe, roasted garbanzo beans, falafel aka chickpea burgers... And a garbanzo bean soup, to die for!

For your chickpea recipes don't buy them in cans. Cooking chickpeas is so easy, and you run no risk of botulism or contamination from the metal of the can, and you can be certain they have been properly prepared. 

Levels of preparation

Level 1: Soak, rinse and boil

The most time consuming part of the preparation of cooking chickpeas is to soak them for at least 12 and preferably 24 hours, tossing in a few slices of fresh lemon (or vinegar) to acidify the liquid. Rinse and drain several times, to remove most of the dissolved anti-nutrients. 

Pressure cook for half an hour.

Level 2: Soak, rinse and sprout, and boil

Soak and rinse the chickpeas as in Level 1.

Place the soaked legumes in a large bottle and cover with a cloth, securing with a strong rubberband.

Lay the bottle on its side, inverting a couple of times a day to get the excess water out. Rinse regularly.

Within a few days they will begin to sprout. Place in a pressure cooker, cover with boiling water and cook for half an hour.

Level 3: Soak, sprout, boil, mash & ferment

After level 2, mash the cooked chickpeas with a potato masher, return them to the bottle, and add a tablespoon of kefir culture per cup of legumes. Seal the bottle with a lid and allow the chickpeas to ferment for a couple days.

Open the lid daily to release the gas that will build up.

Freeze the fermented, mashed chickpeas in cup-sized tubs. We use it mainly in our authentic hummus recipe and to lower the glycemic index of our artisan bread. You will find other ways; perhaps making falafel regularly or chickpeas soup.

Synergy of green living

There's a synergy of green living that develops slowly over time. Once you get into solar power, you find it enables harvesting rainwater. When you start cooking chickpeas you discover that the kefir benefits that you've already learned will help with cooking chickpeas in a way that is better than just soaking and rinsing them.

It's a fun way of living. Suddenly you no longer need those calcium supplements, and constipation is no longer a problem and your colon starts to behave the way it should. Ultimately, in the years ahead, research reveals that means less disability from osteoporosis and a lessened likelihood of the nasty neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

Cooking chickpeas

Your dried chickpeas are dirt cheap; around 2 dollars per kilogram in South Africa, but half of that in Holland with its big Turkish community. You may have to shop around. Ask folk from the Mediterranean lands or the East.

You will need to soak your garbanzo beans at least overnight in warm water, and preferably longer to start them sprouting. They have a growth inhibitor so don't pour the liquid onto your potted plants. Dump it on the lawn; less grass to mow.

Legumes contain so called anti-nutrients like lectins and phytates which certainly inhibit the absorption of minerals and allegedly may cause 'leaky gut' syndrome, so a long soak, with a rinsing or three, to remove these substances makes sense.

You can soak them for perhaps 36 hours, but then you need to replace the water frequently to dissolve the lectins and phytates; at least a couple times a day.

The longer the soaking period, the shorter the cooking time, but never less than half an hour in a pressure cooker.

Garbanzo beans

In case there's some confusion about cooking chickpeas, they are also known as garbanzo beans. They're my favourite legume though each has its virtues.

Broad beans for example have the highest percentage of vegetable protein, a whopping 25%, and a very important phytochemical called L-Dopa; it's required by the Substantia Niagra in the brain to prevent Parkinson's disease.

These garbanzo beans aren't covered with enough water; they explode by imbibing large amounts of water.  During the whole of the soaking period they should be covered with water.

See... these are high and dry. More water is needed; you can't add too much. Then, rinse thoroughly with fresh water.

Soaking and rinsing helps to deal with the phytic acid that inhibits the absorption of some important minerals.

Pressure cooker

A high quality, safe pressure cooker is a must for every family. It's such a time saver and, if you're one of those odd green creatures, a huge reduction in energy consumption.

If you want to make garbanzo bean recipes regularly, and you should, then you need a plentiful supply of cooked chickpeas; we'll use the terms interchangably. Preparing them on the stove takes at least an hour and a half; less, and they'll give you a belly ache.

But just thirty minutes in your cooker, leave them to stand until the pressure has dropped and, hey presto, your chickpeas are ready for use.

There's only one criterion for your pressure cooker; stainless steel not aluminium. Spend the extra, rather than risk the possible association with Alzheimer's. Buying them on line incidentally is often cheaper, even after delivery costs. I've just purchased one for a gift for a friend and it was significantly less. More about solar pressure cooking.

Bring to pressure for fifteen minutes, turn off and wait until the pressure has normalised. Leave them for half hour. Rinse several times, dry in a colander for a few minutes, and...

... put them into cup size packets and freeze immediately.

Of course, keep back one cup for your first chickpea recipe; perhaps my authentic hummus recipe. Enjoy with a mixed salad for lunch.

Enjoy as wide a mix of salads as you can find. Avocado benefits for your nerve coating, tomato prostate for you know what, and green peas just because they are so delic; you don't even have to pod these sugar snaps. Lettuce is perfect for high folate levels; that's a most vital B vitamin. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon; and just a tiny bit of honeycomb on the side, only for the very privileged.

Just add a slice of whole wheat bread and butter and your favourite spread, perhaps cheese or some guava jelly, and you have the complete healthy meal. No margarine you'll note; it's not necessary for those who enjoy a lunch like this and research proves conclusively there is no point changing from butter. See the good dollop of hummus? It takes me only four minutes to make hummus once I've been cooking chickpeas.

Authentic hummus recipe

After cooking chickpeas, and freezing them, but bulk go into our famous authentic hummus recipe; after making it twice a week for ten years, I think I can speak with some authority on the subject.

Falafel burgers

If you're into fast food, but you're really trying to reduce your red meat consumption, then try these falafel chickpea burgers, also spelled felafel. Or, just mix a little blended cooked chickpeas into your ground beef.

Soya bean burgers aren't very exciting, but made with chickpeas ... also known as falafel in the Middle East - are highly nutritious, have zero cholesterol and are very tasty.

Healthy choice foods

It can now be stated without fear of contradiction that too much red meat, and in particular processed and charred meat, is a major cause of cancer. Prime on my list of healthy choice foods is cooking chickpeas.

If you're eating red meat more than two to three times a week, give serious consideration to moving towards more legumes like chickpeas and broad beans; and lentils too.

That's if you want to sit under those trees you once planted and watch the grandchildren grow up!

Chickpea or Chicken broccoli recipe

Broccoli makes one of the most nutritious anti-cancer, anti-inflammation soups. Enjoy it with nourishing protein food. Chicken broccoli recipe with the option of chickpeas.

» » Cooking chickpeas

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