What are Chick Peas?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Chick peas are perhaps better known by their name garbanzo beans. They are a roundish, beige to light green members of the legume family grown primarily in part of West Asia, India, and in the Mediterranean. Most are familiar with chick peas as either used whole in salads, or ground up to make the popular Middle Eastern dish hummus.

Garbanzo beans are high in protein.
Garbanzo beans are high in protein.

These legumes also can be ground up and used as a flour called gram flour. They may be used in this fashion to make falafel, or to make a variant of tofu made by the people of Burma. It is usually known as Burmese tofu.

Bowl of hummus drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika.
Bowl of hummus drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika.

Chick peas are also a frequent ingredient in Italian dishes. They may be used to make pasta and beans. They are often added to marinated vegetables and may be part of an antipasto dish. They may also be recognizable as a staple in three-bean salad, which is comprised of green beans, kidney beans and chick peas and pickled with vinegar or stored in vinegar and oil.

Dried chick peas.
Dried chick peas.

A serving of chick peas has about 4 ounces (113.39 g) or half a cup has about 17 grams of dietary fiber and 19 grams of protein. They are also considered more digestible than most other beans making them a better choice for people who suffer from excessive flatulence after consuming beans.

Chick peas can be used in a variety of foods.
Chick peas can be used in a variety of foods.

Chick peas are considered a starchy carbohydrate and are a great staple for people with diabetes. They do not produce high glucose in the body when consumed. Thus they rate well on the glycemic index.

There are actually two forms of chick peas. The Desi type has a darker color and tends to be smaller. The Kabuli type is more familiar to the American consumer with a lighter color and a softer coat. Of the two, the Desi is considered a better dietary choice, but is harder to find in the US.

Kabuli chick peas are quite easy to find, especially canned. One can hardly fail to notice their presence next to many other varieties of canned beans in most grocery stores. Because they have only a slight flavor, they are excellent for mixing with other ingredients or spices, and make for a healthful addition to a variety of dishes.

Chick peas can add protein to a green leafy salad.
Chick peas can add protein to a green leafy salad.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


How do chick peas grow?


If I eat too many beans, will I break wind a lot?


good to know. I like chick peas and will be trying it in all the ways the comments mention.


We use chick peas mainly in hummus. Delicious! In fact, we are eating freshly made hummus right now!


In kenya, it's mainly an indian dish but other communities also boil it with maize and eat it that way.


Chickpeas are very common in malaysia. The tamil indians use it in their cooking; one can also steam it after soaking it in water and add a little salt for taste. eat when it's hot. yummy!


the best falafel is made from chickpeas and the best one is made by Falafa Pita in New York.

It is gluten free and fresh. taste of heaven


YAY! I use them as vegetarian for a meat sub!


While most falafel is made from chick peas, some are made exclusively from fava beans or a combination of fava beans and chick peas.

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