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Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to Cook Chickpeas

Most people know that you have to soak dry beans before you cook them. For most beans—black, white, pinto, kidney—a simple overnight soak works fine. But chickpeas require more soaking and longer cooking.

For us, it's a worthwhile effort, because home-cooked chickpeas have much better flavor and texture (and price) than their canned siblings, and because this delicious "meaty" bean is the main ingredient in hummus and many Indian dishes. But we struggled with the soaking and cooking issue until we got a great tip from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat.

Before you leave your raw chickpeas to soak (in a roomy bowl with lots of water), mix together a tablespoon of flour, a tablespoon of salt, and a teaspoon of baking soda, then add just enough water to make a thin paste. Add this paste to the soaking beans, and you will dramatically shorten not only the soaking time but the cooking time.

This week we let a batch of chickpeas soak overnight in the flour/salt/baking soda mixture, then cooked them the next morning. Amazingly, they were done in 40 minutes.


  1. Great tip! I will give this technique a try. I buy most bean varieties dried, but always seem to buy chickpeas in the can. Have you cooked fresh garbanzos? Just saw them at whole foods yesterday, still in their pods.

  2. Wow - I was just looking at dried chickpeas yesterday in the store thinking "I'd like to try it - but I have NO idea if they need to be soaked or how long they'll take to cook..." I picked up a can instead. Next time, I'm going for the dried - great tips!

  3. Yep, this is one of the best tips ever.

    We've never seen fresh garbanzos but would love to try them, as they are probably our favorite bean. Nancy, if you try them, let us know how they turn out! (We're always looking for guest posts...)