Break fast with these six chickpea dishes

Eating chickpeas helps protect against heart disease and cancer.
Eating chickpeas helps protect against heart disease and cancer. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

The chickpea is not only an ingredient that is popular in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines, but it is also a good source of dietary fibre and protein

(THE DAILY STAR/ANN) - If you were to choose one quintessential iftar (the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan) ingredient, it will be the chickpea. No iftar meal is complete without it.

It is not only in Bangladesh, but also across the globe that this legume enjoys soaring popularity. Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are an essential ingredient in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. 

So, what makes this a superfood?

The chickpea is high in nutritional value: A one-cup serving has only 4 grams of total fat. It has low cholesterol and sodium levels and is a good source of dietary fibre, protein, copper, folate, manganese, iron, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins. 

WHY CHICKPEAS ARE HEALTHY  

1. Helps control blood sugar levels.

2. Increases satiety and helps with weight loss.

3. Improves digestion due to a high fibre content.

4. Helps protect against heart disease and cancer.

5. Provides essential vitamins and minerals.

6. Great source of plant-based protein.

CHICKPEA BASICS

There are primarily two variants of chickpeas on the market.

The "deshi" one (also known as brown chickpeas) and the "kabuli" one (also known as white chickpeas). The variant from Bangladesh contains smaller, darker seeds and has more of a rough coat. Kabuli is a larger, lighter-coloured bean with a smoother coat. 

If you prefer to use dried chickpeas, remember to soak them in water for 24 hours before cooking. Keep in mind that one cup of raw chickpeas gives about 2½ cups of soaked/boiled chickpeas.

To speed up the soaking process, add one teaspoon of bicarbonate to the water, but bear in mind that this may impart a bitter flavour to the chickpeas.

Depending on the recipe, the cooking time for the chickpeas will vary between half an hour to two hours. Using a pressure cooker will significantly reduce the cooking time. 


CHICKPEAS AND MINT RICE

An all-rounder that contains cereals, pulses, vegetables and oil, chickpeas and mint rice is a satisfying one-dish meal.  All you need to do is to serve this easy-to-prepare rice dish with a bowl of calcium-rich, low-fat curd for a balanced and complete meal.

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp oil

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

½ cup thinly sliced onions

2 bay leaves

2 cups soaked and cooked rice

1 cup soaked and boiled chickpeas

½ cup chopped and boiled mixed vegetables (French beans, carrots and green peas)

Salt to taste

1 tsp green chilli paste

¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves

½ tsp lemon juice

Low-fat curd

METHOD

1. Heat the oil in a broad non-stick pan. Add the garlic, onions and bay leaves. Saute on a medium flame until the onions turn brown.

2. Add the rice, chickpeas, mixed vegetables and salt. Mix well and cook on a medium flame for two minutes.

3. Add the green chilli paste, mint leaves and lemon juice, then mix well and cook for another minute. Serve hot with low-fat curd.



No iftar meal is complete without chickpeas. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

Baked chickpea parcels

This is a delicious snack. A spicy tangy chickpea preparation is placed inside a plain flour dough leavened with yeast and baked in an oven. Somewhat like a chickpea stuffed bun, these baked chickpea parcels have a fluffy texture with a scrumptious filling. 

To get the right texture, prepare the chickpeas one to three hours in advance and allow to cool before stuffing them into the dough. 

INGREDIENTS

(For the dough)

1 Tbsp instant dry yeast

½ tsp sugar

2 cups plain flour

Salt to taste

¼ cup melted butter

(For the chickpeas)

2 Tbsp oil

2 cloves

2 small cinnamon sticks

2 bay leaves 

 ¼ tsp cumin seeds

½ cup finely chopped onions

1 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 tsp finely chopped green chillies

½ cup finely chopped tomatoes

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp chaat masala

1 tsp coriander powder

Salt to taste

2 cups white chickpeas

(Other ingredients)

Plain flour for rolling

Butter for brushing

METHOD

1. Combine the yeast, sugar and ¼ cup of warm water in a small bowl and mix well. Cover it and set aside for 10 minutes. Combine the plain flour, salt and yeast-sugar mixture in a deep bowl, mix well and knead into a soft dough, using warm water as required. 

2. Add the butter and knead well until smooth. Cover the dough with a wet muslin cloth and set aside for 45 minutes. Knead the dough again to remove the excess air and set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin seeds and onions. Saute on a medium flame for six minutes. 

4. Add the ginger-garlic paste, green chillies and tomatoes. Mix well and cook on a medium flame for five minutes.

5. Add the turmeric powder, chaat masala, coriander powder and salt, mix well and cook for a few minutes.

6. Add the boiled chickpeas and cook for five minutes, mashing them lightly with the back of a spoon while stirring occasionally. 

7. Divide the mixture into eight equal portions. Then, divide the dough into 16 equal portions and roll two portions of the dough into a 75mm diameter circle using plain flour. 

8. Place a portion of the prepared chickpeas in the centre, apply water on the sides and place another rolled pastry portion over it. Press it well on the sides to seal it tightly. Repeat the steps to make the remaining seven parcels and set aside for five minutes.

9. Arrange the parcels on a greased baking tray at equal intervals, leaving space between each parcel for expansion, and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 200 deg C for 15 minutes. Brush the parcels with butter and serve immediately. 



Eating chickpeas can help one lose weight as it makes one stay sated for longer. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

Chickpea tikka

Tikkas are popular in Bangladesh and India. Here is a nutritious variant of this all-time favourite dish made with protein and calcium-rich ingredients such as chickpeas and mint. 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups soaked and boiled chickpeas

½ cup chopped mint leaves

2 tsp finely chopped green chillies

¼ cup finely chopped capsicum

½ cup grated carrot

½ cup grated cabbage

½ tsp grated garlic

½ tsp roasted cumin seeds powder

Salt to taste

3¼ tsp oil for greasing and cooking

METHOD

1. Combine the chickpeas, mint leaves and green chillies in a mixer and blend to a coarse mixture without using water.

2. Transfer the mixture to a deep bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

3. Divide the mixture into 15 equal portions and shape each portion into a 50mm diameter flat tikka.

4. Heat and grease a non-stick flat pan using ¼ tsp of oil. Cook each tikka, using ¼ tsp oil, until they turn golden in colour on both sides. Serve hot with green chutney.



Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

Chickpea Dip

This recipe combines chickpeas with beetroot, almonds, curd, garlic and other ingredients to make a beetroot and chickpea dip which not only looks good, but also tastes good. This dip is tangy, spicy, sweet and garlicky. Eat with lavash bread. 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup soaked and boiled chickpeas

½ cup peeled and chopped beetroot

¼ cup blanched almonds

¼ cup hung curds

¼ cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ tsp olive oil for drizzling

METHOD

Combine all the ingredients in a mixer with ½ cup of water and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Before serving, drizzle the olive oil evenly over it and serve chilled with lavash bread.



A one-cup serving of chickpeas has only 4g of total fat. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

Gassi

Gassi (also spelt as ghassi or gashi) is a popular curry from Mangalore in the southern part of India. It is made using chickpeas, fresh ground spices and coconut. Gassi is typically served with a roti that is thin, crispy and made using rice flour. You can also eat it with rice. 

INGREDIENTS

½ cup chickpeas, dry

(For masala paste)

4 dried red chillies

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp coriander seeds

½ cup coconut scrapings

½ tsp tamarind paste

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp turmeric powder

(For tempering)

1 Tbs coconut oil

Curry leaves

¼ tsp mustard seeds

1 pinch asafoetida

METHOD

1. Soak the chickpeas in water for eight to 10 hours. Drain the chickpeas. In a pan, boil the chickpeas until soft. Set aside. 

2. In a wok, dry roast the red chillies until crisp, along with the coriander seeds.

3. In a mixer, grind the red chillies, coriander seeds, garlic, coconut and tamarind to a fine paste using up to ½ cup of water.

4. Place the cooked chickpeas in a pan, along with the freshly ground spice paste. Add the salt, turmeric powder and ½ cup of water. Bring to a simmer till curry consistency.

5. For tempering, in a small pan, heat the oil, splutter the mustard seeds, add the curry leaves, red chillies, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and transfer it over the curry. Serve hot with roti or rice. 


Chickpeas and beans salad

This calcium- and protein-packed treat helps you stay young, not only by making up for lost muscle mass, but also by strengthening the bones. The vitamin C in the lemon juice also improves your immunity, keeping your skin supple and smooth, and improving the absorption of vitamin D, which is essential for stronger bones. Make the dressing for this salad close to serving time to retain maximum vitamin C.

INGREDIENTS

¾ cup soaked and boiled chickpeas

¾ cup soaked and boiled kidney beans

¾ cup broad field beans

1 cup lettuce, torn into pieces

2 Tbsp processed cheese cubes

½ cup spring onions

½ cup tomato cubes

(To be mixed into a dressing)

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ tsp dried oregano

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

2 tsp lemon juice

Salt to taste

METHOD

1. In a deep bowl, combine all ingredients except the dressing and toss well. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

2. Before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Serve immediately.