Steamed Chickpeas

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    1 cup

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

North African Berbers claim they developed the art of culinary steaming, which then spread throughout the Mediterranean world. If true, they made a huge contribution! Steaming has been used to cook innumerable dishes, not only couscous, but also vegetables, fish, lamb, chicken, fava beans, and soaked chickpeas.

Chickpeas steamed over boiling water, then dusted with coarse salt and ground cumin are a revelation. You taste the nuttiness without any toasting. The trick is to start with perfectly swollen chickpeas, requiring a full 12-hour soak. Steaming will then create moist and pure-flavored chickpeas with a fine creamy texture. Steamed chickpeas are best served hot. Cool, they lose all their charm. Eat them as you would nuts, a few at a time.

Though the soaking is long, the steaming is quick. This recipe works best for small amounts.


  • ⅓ cup dried chickpeas
  • ¾ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin


  1. Soak the chickpeas in a bowl with water to cover by at least 2 inches in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours; drain.
  2. Fill the bottom of a couscous cooker or deep pot with water and bring to a boil. Lightly oil the inside of the perforated top or a colander and fasten onto the cooker. Use a strip of cloth as padding to keep steam from escaping between the cooker and the top. Add the drained chickpeas, cover, and steam for 45 minutes. Do not remove the cover during this time.
  3. Remove from the heat, toss the chickpeas with the sea salt and cumin, and serve at once while still hot.