Chick peas, garbanzo beans, chana, ceci beans, pois chiche, etc. So many names for such a functional legume. The chick pea’s versatility is exactly why it’s one of my favorites foods–they can be incorporated into so many different types of ethnic dishes. Plus, they are a low fat source of high protein and fiber.
I met the infamous chick pea a little over twelve years ago. My mom was in the habit of making hummus and I was in the habit of refusing to try it (I was a terrible combination of moody teenager and picky eater). One day, in a non-defiant move, I tried her hummus and it was amazing. I’ve been hooked on the dip ever since.
It wasn’t until 2009 that my love for this particular legume really took off, in thanks to a little Middle Eastern restaurant called East West Grill, tucked away in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, VA. Every order this place served was tasty, but it was their chick pea stew that stole the show. It was this slow-cooked concoction that opened my eyes to eating different types of foods prepared in different types of ways. To this day, it is still the most amazing dish I have ever eaten. It is one of the things I miss most about the DC area and I have unsuccessfully found anything that comes close to replicating the garbanzo bean goodness here in Charlotte. So instead of blaming the Middle Eastern restaurants in my area for not being able to serve a delicate, warm, melt-in-your mouth chick pea dish, I decided to take the issue into my own hands. This was no easy task, however, because it meant that I would have to cook the chick peas myself…like from the bag, dried and all. I have no good reason why, but I found this area of cooking extremely intimidating and I kept putting it off for fear of failure–amazing how something so small can be such a big deal. I finally stopped acting like an amateur and started the process, and it was a piece of cake (I want to have my chick peas and eat them too).
First things first, one needs time when preparing and cooking chick peas: at least 12 hours allotted for soaking, and another 1.5 hours or more for cooking and cooling. To start, pour a one pound bag of chick peas in a large bowl of water. Make sure the water is about four inches higher than the beans because some of the water will be absorbed. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and let the chick peas soak for at least 12 hours (overnight is usually the most time effective).
Once the chick peas have soaked for the designated time, transfer them to a large pot and fill with water. Again, make sure there is about four inches of water over the beans. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil.
Stir the chick peas, cover the pot, and lower the heat to a simmer. Let the beans simmer for at least an hour. I extended the time–about an extra hour–because I prefer my beans extremely tender. Once the desired cooking time elapses, pour the chick peas into a bowl and let them cool for about 20 minutes. Note that they stay fresh in the refrigerator for only a few days, so eat up or freeze them!
But what exactly do you do once you have about two pounds of ready-to-go chick peas? Because I had more than enough beans, I opted for a batch of hummus and a slow-cooked chicken, chick pea, vegetable, coconut curry (say that three times fast).
-2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
-1 cup of fresh chick peas
-1/4 cup of tahini (the more tahini you use, the creamier the hummus)
-Juice from a fresh lemon or two
-2 tsp salt (or to taste)
-2 tbsp of olive oil
-1/8 cup + 1 tbsp of cold water
Place all of the ingredients, except the water, in a food processor and process for about 15 seconds while slowly pouring in the water. Blend for another 15 seconds and enjoy with your favorite dipping accessory or use the hummus as a spread.
-1lb of thinly cut and sliced chicken breasts
-2.25 cups of fresh chick peas
-1 large onion, peeled and chopped
-1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
-2 cups of fresh spinach, lightly chopped
-1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
-6 small potatoes, quartered
Place the ingredients in a slow cooker or dutch oven
-2 cloves of garlic, peeled -1 large onion, peeled and chopped -1 green pepper, seeded and chopped -1 jalapeño, partially seeded and chopped (the more seeds the spicier. add at your own risk) -5 oz. tomato paste -1.5 tbsp curry powder -1tbsp garam masala -1 tsp salt -1 can of lite coconut milk
In a food processor, combine all of the sauce ingredients except the coconut milk. Process contents until well blended (~30 seconds) and then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the coconut milk until the sauce is evenly mixed and colored. Pour the sauce over the contents in the slow-cooker. Cook on low for six hours (or on high for 4 hours; I still have yet to favor a setting). Serve over couscous (or rice) and with naan.