Chickpea or Garbanzo

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Chickpeas are a native of arid southwest Asia, and like the fava bean, pea, and lentil have been cultivated for about 9,000 years. There are two general types, desi and kabuli. Desi are closer to the wild chickpea, with small seeds, a thick, tough seed coat, and a dark color from abundant phenolic compounds. They’re the main variety grown in Asia, Iran, Ethiopia, and Mexico. The kabuli type, more common in the Middle East and Mediterranean, is larger, cream-colored, with a thin, light seed coat. There are also varieties with dark green cotyledons. Chickpeas are notable among the legumes for being about 5% oil by weight; most others are 1–2%.