Saturday, February 19, 2011

How and Why to Cook Your Own Chickpeas

Until I started cooking my own chickpeas, I didn't like them very much. I'd use them to make hummus but wouldn't eat them whole from a can. This Vegetarian Times article insisted that the best hummus starts from chickpeas you cook yourself. So I dug out the slow cooker that was buried, unopened, in my basement since I got it as a present five years ago and made my first batch. VeggieCarrie gave me the tip to cook them with some chopped onion.

The smell that filled the house was unbelievably wonderful. When they were done, I stood at the slow cooker eating the warm chickpeas by the spoonful. This is what chickpeas should taste like, I realized, not the bland ones from a can. I've been cooking them ever since. Many people on Twitter have asked me about it, so here's a basic recipe for how to cook chickpeas.

Why you should cook your own chickpeas:
  1. Taste is simply fabulous, infinitely better than canned.
  2. You can cook them to the texture you want. The canned ones are too firm for me. I cook mine to be very soft.
  3. You'll save money. Chickpeas are very inexpensive at Indian food marts. It costs about $4 for a huge bag that can last for months, even if you make them every weekend.
  4. It's easy! It takes less than five minutes to dump everything into the slow cooker, and in three hours on high, they're done. (Note that I've been unsuccessful at cooking beans in a pot on the stove. You have to keep the water to a very gentle simmer, which I find hard to do. Mine would boil and then just break apart. But if you're willing to watch the pot, chickpeas can be cooked in about a half hour.)
  5. The chickpea cooking water is really good. I save it to use in hummus, soups and sometimes in recipes that call for vegetable broth.

How to cook chickpeas:
  1. Rinse 1 cup of chickpeas well. They can be dirty. I don't soak mine before I cook them, but you can.
  2. Put 1 cup of chickpeas in the slow cooker stoneware and add 3 cups of cold water. You can also add whatever seasonings you want. I always add 1 chopped onion and 1 minced garlic garlic clove.
  3. Cook on high for about 3 hours (start checking at 2 hours) or on low for longer. When they're soft enough for you, they're done.
  4. I drain the cooking water into another pot and either refrigerate or freeze it to use in place of vegetable broth.
1 cup of dried chickpeas yields about 3 cups of cooked chickpeas. You can easily increase the amount--for every cup of chickpeas, add 3 cups water. Chickpeas will keep in the fridge for about a week or can be frozen.

Happy chickpea cooking!


  1. I agree. I choose cooking over canned any day! If you have a rice cooker or pressure cooker they can be cooked up easily and beautifully, too!

  2. Thanks for the tips. I always mean to do this but never really find the time. I don't have a slow cooker either, so we'll have to see how it works but I DO love chickpeas, even canned - can't wait to see what fresh cooked ones are like.

  3. I have used this recipe a few times, and they get better each time. I've also been adding different seasonings. So awesome, thank you!!