How to cook chickpeas

How to cook chickpeas

How to cook chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated legumes, with evidence that they’ve been grown for about 7,500 years. Were our neolithic ancestors swapping hummus tips? Quite possibly; the Roman gourmet Apicius gives several recipes. Interestingly, the word hummus is the name of the chickpea itself in Arabic. What we call hummus is hummus bi tahina (chickpeas with tahini). Chickpeas are also used in Spanish, North African and Indian cuisine.

There are two main types: the desi, which are darker and smaller and the kabuli, which are larger, smoother and lighter. The latter is grown in southern Europe and north Africa, and it’s the one we come across more frequently, but they are also grown in the USA and Canada. Worldwide chickpea production totals no less than nine million tons a year.

The cooked yield is around two and a half times the dried weight and volume, although this will vary slightly according to your chickpeas.

Pick over the chickpeas and remove any black ones then place in a large bowl
Add a generous spoon of bicarbonate of soda – about 1 tsp per 150g dried peas. This will help soften them and reduce the cooking time
Pour boiling water into the bowl, covering the chickpeas by a few inches and leave for 24 hours
Drain and rinse the beans several times
Place in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and gently simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender
Cooking time will vary according to the soaking time, the age and variety of the peas
When done, drain, rinse and plunge into a large pan of cold water


Chickpeas generally taste better if you remove some of the tough skins. To do this, submerge the chickpeas in water. Rub them between your hands and give them a good swirl, then skim off any loose skins which float to the top. Repeat several times, drain and rinse again.

To freeze, arrange a single layer of chickpeas on a piece of clingfilm or on a silicone baking mat on a tray. When frozen, pack into bags or plastic boxes.


Probably the most well known use of chickpeas is to make hummus. Bryan Webb serves up a Quick and simple hummus, or for something a little different try Victoria Glass’ unusual Beetroot hummus with squid ink flatbread. They are also great as part of a curry – try Paul Heathcote’s Quick vegetable curry for a filling vegetarian main.

Chickpeas are also the main component of falafel; Phil Fanning serves his Hogget mezze with falafel and walnuts. They are fantastic in salads, too – try this Roasted carrot and chickpea salad or Alfred Prasad’s Chickpea, mango and edamame ‘sundal’.