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Left: Bengal variety; right: European variety
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Cicer
Species: C. arietinum
Binomial name
Cicer arietinum
Chickpeas, mature seeds, cooked no salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 160 kcal   690 kJ
Carbohydrates     27.42 g
- Sugars  4.8 g
- Dietary fiber  7.6 g  
Fat2.59 g
- saturated  0.269 g
- monounsaturated  0.583 g  
- polyunsaturated  1.156 g  
Protein 8.86 g
Water60.21 g
Vitamin A equiv.  1 μg 0%
Thiamin (Vit. B1)  0.116 mg  9%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)  0.063 mg  4%
Niacin (Vit. B3)  0.526 mg  4%
Pantothenic acid (B5)  0.286 mg 6%
Vitamin B6  0.139 mg11%
Folate (Vit. B9)  172 μg 43%
Vitamin B12  0 μg  0%
Vitamin C  1.3 mg2%
Vitamin E  0.35 mg2%
Vitamin K  4 μg4%
Calcium  49 mg5%
Iron  2.89 mg23%
Magnesium  48 mg13% 
Phosphorus  168 mg24%
Potassium  291 mg  6%
Sodium  7 mg0%
Zinc  1.53 mg15%
Percentages are relative to US
recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

The chickpea, chick pea, garbanzo bean, Indian pea, ceci bean, bengal gram, hummus, kadale kaalu (Kannada), sanaga pappu (Telugu), chana or channa (Cicer arietinum) is an edible legume (English "pulse") of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae.

The plant grows to between 20 and 50 cm high and has small feathery leaves on either side of the stem. One seedpod contains two or three peas. The flowers are white or sometimes reddish-blue. Chickpeas need a subtropical or tropical climate with more than 400 mm of annual rain. They can be grown in a temperate climate but yields will be much lower. The garbanzo is often used as a source of protein by vegetarians and vegans since it has one of the highest protein levels of all plants.



There are two main kinds of chickpea (garbanzo), each with several varieties:

  • Desi - "with small, dark seeds and a rough coat (prevailing in the Indian subcontinent, Ethiopia, Mexico, Iran)"
  • Kabuli - "with light-coloured, larger seeds and a smoother coat (mainly grown in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Afghanistan, Chile, and introduced in the 18th century to the Indian subcontinent)"[1]

The Desi (meaning 'country' or 'local' in Hindi) form is also known as Bengal gram or kala chana. Kabuli (meaning 'from Kabul' in Hindi, as they were perceived to come from Afghanistan when first encountered in India) is the kind widely grown throughout the Mediterranean. Desi is likely the earliest form since it closely resembles seeds found both on archaeological sites and the wild plant ancestor of domesticated chickpeas (cicer reticulatum) which only grows in southeast Turkey, where it is believed to have originated. Desi chickpeas have a markedly higher fiber content than Kabulis and hence a very low glycemic index which may make them suitable for people with blood sugar problems.[2]

Cultivation and uses

Chickpeas (garbanzo) are grown in the Mediterranean, western Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Domestically they can be sprouted within a few days all year round with a sprouter on a windowsill.

Top Ten Chickpea Producers — 2005
(1000 tonnes)
 India 5,470
 Pakistan 868
 Bangladesh 610
 Myanmar 530
 Iran 310
 Ethiopia 216
 Mexico 133
 Australia 116
 Canada 103
 Syria 65
World Total 8,421
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)


Mature chickpeas can be cooked and eaten cold in salads, cooked in stews, ground into a flour called gram flour (also known as besan and used in primarily in Indian cuisine), ground and shaped in balls and fried as falafel, fermented to make an alcoholic drink similar to sake, stirred into a batter and baked to make farinata, cooked and ground into a paste called hummus or roasted, spiced and eaten as a snack (such as leblebi). Chick peas and bengal grams make excellent curries and are one of the most popular vegetarian foods in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the UK. On the Indian subcontinent chickpeas are called chana (Hindi, Bengali and other Indic languages), konda kadalai or kothu kadalai (Tamil), where they are a major source of protein in a mostly vegetarian culture. Many popular Indian dishes are made with chickpea flour, such as mirchi bajji and mirapakaya bajji telugu. In India unripe chickpeas are often picked out of the pod and eaten as a raw snack and the leaves are eaten as a green vegetable in salads. Chickpea flour is also used to make "Burmese tofu" which was first known among the Shan people of Burma. The flour is also used as a batter to coat various vegetables and meats before frying, such as with panelle, a chickpea fritter from Sicily.[2]

History of chickpeas

Domesticated chickpeas have been found in the aceramic levels of Jericho (PPNB) and Cayönü in Turkey and in Neolithic pottery at Hacilar, Turkey. They are found in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BCE) at Thessaly, Kastanas, Lerna and Dimini. In the southern France, Mesolithic layers in a cave at L'Abeurador, Aude has yielded wild chickpeas which have been carbon dated to 6790±90 BCE.[3]

By the Bronze Age chickpeas were known in Italy and Greece. In classical Greece they were called erébinthos and eaten as a staple, a dessert and consumed raw when young. The Romans knew several varieties, such as venus, ram and punic chickpeas. They were both cooked down into a broth and roasted as a snack. The Roman gourmet Apicius gives several recipes for chickpeas. Carbonized chickpeas have been found at the Roman legion fort at Neuss (Novaesium), Germany in layers from the 1st century CE along with rice.

Chickpeas are mentioned in Charlemagne's Capitulare de villis (about 800 CE) as cicer italicum, to be grown in each imperial demesne. Albertus Magnus mentions red, white and black varieties. According to Culpeper "chick-pease or cicers" are less "windy" than peas and more nourishing. Ancient people also associated chickpeas with Venus because they were said to offer medical uses such as increasing sperm and milk, provoking menstruation and urine and helping to treat kidney stones. Wild cicers were thought to be especially strong and helpful.

Chickpeas were grown in some areas of Germany as a coffee substitute called chickamuddle during the First World War.


The name chickpea traces back through the French chiche to the Latin name cicer, from which the Roman surname Cicero was taken. The word garbanzo comes from Old Spanish (perhaps influenced by Old Spanish garroba or algarroba) through arvanço which may be linked to the Greek erebinthos.[4]


    Chickpeas are a helpful source of zinc, folate and protein.[5][6] They are also very high in dietary fiber and hence a healthy food, especially as a source of carbohydrates for persons with insulin sensitivity or diabetes. Chickpeas are low in fat and most of it is polyunsaturated.

One hundred grams of mature boiled chickpeas contains 164 calories, 2.6 grams of fat (of which only 0.27 grams is saturated), 7.6 grams of dietary fiber and 8.9 grams of protein.

Chickpeas are also a good source of calcium (49-53 mg/100 g). Some sources cite the garbonzo as equal to yogurt and close to milk. According to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, on average chickpea seeds contain:

  • 23% protein
  • 64% total carbohydrates (47% starch, 6% soluble sugar)
  • 5% fat
  • 6% crude fiber
  • 3% ash

There is also a high reported mineral content:

  • phosphorus (340 mg/100 g)
  • calcium (190 mg/100 g)
  • magnesium (140 mg/100g)
  • iron (7 mg/100 g)
  • zinc (3 mg/100 g)

Plant photos


  1. ^ Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops
  2. ^ David Mendosa: Chana Dal
  3. ^ Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of Plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), pp. 110f
  4. ^ "Garbanzo"
  5. ^ Vegetarian Information Sheet: Zinc
  6. ^ Vegetarian Information Sheet: Protein

See also

  • Gram flour
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chickpea". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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