Garbanzo beans, Cicer arietinum, also known as chickpeas, ceci beans and Bengal gram, are among the more flavorful and nutrient-packed of all the legumes. Although garbanzo beans are often associated with the cuisines of the Mediterranean and Middle East, they are also an important staple in India, Africa and parts of Asia.

Garbanzo beans are available in several varieties. The most common are large yellowish-white beans, smaller dark beans and hulled, split beans. Each has a distinctive taste and is used in a particular way in recipes.

Cooking Beans

To cook, place one cup of dried beans in a large bowl. Rinse with water several times to remove grit. Add enough fresh water to cover the beans completely and let sit overnight, or at least eight hours. The beans will double in bulk.

Drain the soaking water, rinse the beans, and place in a pan for cooking. Add enough water to cover the beans well. Salt, a splash of olive oil and a bay leaf provide added flavor, but are optional. A pressure cooker is the fastest way to cook the beans; pressure cook for approximately 20 minutes. Alternatively, boiling requires approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours of cooking. The beans are done when they are soft and the skin slips off easily.

Canned, precooked garbanzos are also available for those who do not want to spend time cooking dried beans. Drain and rinse canned beans well to remove preservatives and salts in the canning water. Use in recipes as directed for cooked beans. One cup of dried beans is roughly equivalent to three cups of cooked.


Many main course preparations are found from cuisines all over the globe. In addition, garbanzos can be added to soups and salads to add flavor and nutrition. Add a handful to tossed salads, or sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and combine with cucumber, tomato and mozzarella cheese.

Two popular main courses are described below.


Felafel is a delicious Middle Eastern “burger.” Often accompanied by hummus (chickpea spread), it is served with whole-wheat unleavened bread such as pita, chappati or tortilla.

This version uses soaked, uncooked beans.

1 cup dried garbanzo beans, approximately 2 ½ cups after soaking
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ cup minced onion
2 tsp. roasted and ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 cloves garlic or more, to taste
1 T. lemon or lime juice
¼ tsp. chili powder (or more to taste)
2 T. finely chopped parsley

1. Soak beans overnight, or for several hours until plump. Drain water.
2. Grind in a blender or food processor with baking soda until they are the texture of coarse meal, but not a paste.
3. Remove from blender and place in a bowl with salt, onion, cumin, coriander, garlic, parsley, chili powder and lime juice. Mix well.
4. Heat enough peanut oil in a pan for deep frying.
5. Form into small oval patties approximately 2 inches wide and deep-fry several at a time. If mixture is too crumbly to hold together, a little flour can be added. They are done when nicely browned on the outside. Drain well and spoon onto paper.

Serve with yogurt, chopped onion and tomato, tahini and lettuce.


Chole is a savory—and spicy—north Indian Punjabi curry. Tarla Dalal, a renowned Indian cook, provides many recipes free of charge including several for chole on her website, Manjula’s Kitchen,, provides a video on YouTube demonstrating preparation of chole with her recipe. The amount of spice can be altered to taste, but the underlying flavors make this a tasty dish for any palate.

Related Video:

Channa Masala( Garbanzo Beans in Curry Sauce)


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