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Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, bengal gram, or channa,[1] are pulses used in the cuisines of South Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.



All chickpeas are overall rounded in shape, with a cleft at one end and a small point on the other. The two main types of chickpea are kabuli and desi. Kabuli are large, off-white chickpeas, while desi are smaller, darker, and more yellow.[2][3] Desi chickpeas may also be split and skinned to make channa dal.[1][3] When cooked, chickpeas are firmer than other pulses and have a mild flavor.[1][3]

Both main varieties of chickpea are ground to a flour, and the desi variety is referred to as besan.

Selection and storage


While fresh chickpeas can be eaten, the majority are available dried or canned.[3] As such, they are very shelf-stable at room temperature and easy to have on hand.[3] Both soaked and cooked chickpeas can be drained and frozen for several months.[3] If the specific variety of chickpea or flour is not specified in your recipe, try to get the specific variety common to the cuisine of the recipe.



Dried chickpeas must be soaked and cooked before use. The easiest way to do this is by covering them in cold water and letting them rest overnight.[3] After soaking, whole chickpeas can be peeled by pinching and rolling between finger and thumb.[3] Cooking can be done at a regular boil or using a pressure cooker.

Kabuli chickpeas are more common in Mediterranean and West Asian cuisines, while desi chickpeas are more common in South Asia. They are the major ingredient in hummus and falafel,[2] and they can also be included in stews, salads, curries, and more. Chickpea flour is used to make various fritters and flatbreads.[2]



A variety of other pulses can be reasonably substituted for chickpeas, such as fava beans or cannellini beans.[3]




  1. a b c Gisslen, Wayne (2015-03-12). Essentials of Professional Cooking, 2nd Edition. Wiley Global Education. ISBN 978-1-119-03072-0.
  2. a b c Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  3. a b c d e f g h i "Chickpeas Add a Worldly Influence to Dishes From Simple to Complex". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2024-03-08.