Chickpeas in Bengali & Indian Cooking: Things to Know

Chickpea belongs to the family Fabaceae. There are several varieties of chickpeas, namely Bengal gram, Egyptian pea, garbanzo bean etc. Chickpea seeds are rich in protein.

Chickpea is one of the main ingredients in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It is also a part and parcel of India’s vegan culinary landscape.

Chickpea is mostly used to make curries. They appear in many popular veg foods across the Indian subcontinent. Most chickpea dishes are served with hot rice or Indian flatbreads.

Cooking Chickpeas

Uses of Chickpea in Bengali & Indian Cuisines

Chickpea recipes are the harmonious blend of great taste and good nutrition.

Here is a snippet of some of the most popular Bengali and Indian cuisines that use this delicious and nutritious ingredient.

Try them at home and I bet you and your family will enjoy its taste to the fullest.

The most famous Bengali chickpea recipe is ghugni. It is one of few rare dishes that are whipped at home and also relished on the street.

Though chickpeas are available round the year, ghugni is usually prepared on the day of Vijaya Dashami i.e. the last day of week-long Durga Puja celebration.

In fact, the traditional culinary platter, which is gleefully shared with friends and other guests as well as sent to the neighbours on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami, is incomplete without the super bowl of spice-loaded, slightly chilly, delectable ghugni.

Ghugni tastes best when served and consumed hot. On any other day, it is best paired with rotis or parathas.

This popular Bengali dish is traditionally cooked with dried white or yellow peas but black chickpeas are sometimes used for a different twist in the taste. If not cooked on the Hindu religious festivals, ghugni is also served with chopped onions.

Sprinkling chopped green chillies enhances the spiciness and flavour. At home, ghugni is usually made thick whereas it is sold almost dried and tight by the street-side vendors.

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When it comes to chickpeas, forgetting phuchka or pani puri or golgappa will be an unforgivable sin.

They are the popular street foods in India, with each of them being a signature speciality in West Bengal, Mumbai and Delhi.

They belong to the same family and despite a little bit of twist, are the siblings with the same culinary gene.

Boiled chickpeas are mixed with mashed potatoes, chopped onion and green chillies and a host of spices and used as stuffing in puchkas which are dipped into spicy, chilly, tangy zeera water and served.

Sometimes, liberal infusion of mint leaves and helping of chutney make it more special. Only a saint can resist the chilly, tangy temptation.

Chole paneer is one of the most popular dishes served on any Bengali occasion. It is actually a Punjabi dish but in Bengal, it has got a regional twist.

The dish is prepared with cottage cheese, chickpeas, tomatoes, herbs and a handful of spices. Cream, used for garnishing, gives the dish a royal look and flavour.

Masala Channa or Chana Masala is one of the best chatpata (quick) dishes you can prepare for your breakfast or lunch.

This sensational and sumptuous recipe will stir riots of flavours on your taste buds. A filling and wholesome meal to enjoy in the evening! It is best accompanied by chole bhature.

Chickpea finds a place in three bean chaat. Chickpeas, along with kidney beans and green beans, are used to prepare the tasty chaat.

Experience a burst of flavours and nutrients with this quick-to-make snack. A bowl will easily satiate your mid-meal craving.

On any day, chole bhature could be the real rockster on your breakfast menu. It is originally a Punjabi delight but also prepared and enjoyed in other parts of the country.

However, for authentic swad (taste), you should visit a Punjabi restaurant.

Channa madra is a quintessential delicacy from Himachal Pradesh. Chickpeas cooked in an aromatic blend of yogurt and spices drum up divine taste. Pure ghee, used to prepare the dish, gives it a royal feel and flavour.

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Ganthia is a traditional Gujarati dish. Strips prepared from besan or gram flour are fried in piping hot mustard oil. Pickle or dried chilli makes the best accompaniment.

Chana chaat is a quick and healthy snack prepared with chickpeas, potatoes, sesame, tomato slices and a few spices. The mildly spicy chaat and a cup of piping hot tea – a great combo to enjoy on any lazy or rainy evening!

Bread channa basket looks really great. Don’t ask me its taste; I feel my mouth watering.

It is a healthy and tasty recipe that you can pack in a lunch box for your kids, hubby and even yourself. This anytime-snack delight also makes a light, delicious party appetizer.

Pindi chana is a protein-packed Punjabi dish (from Rawalpindi in Pakistan) that combines the goodness of chickpeas and some most commonly used Indian spices. The rustic look and flavour make the recipe truly awesome.

Manipuri Kelli Chana is a full-of-flavour recipe perfect for your snack craving. However, it is a true delight to eat anytime.

Chana Kulcha offers a lovely riot of flavours. It originated in the province of Punjab though is enjoyed by people in other states as well. The recipe is loved by all age groups.

Falafel is a crispy, savoury vegan snack loved by all. It is usually served with spicy sauce to dip in and relish. Falafel is also placed in the wraps or between bread slices for a crunchy, tasty bite.

In South India, white chickpeas are cooked with spices in coconut milk to prepare a luscious, creamy curry. The subtle sweetness comes from coconut and spices give it a distinct aromatic flavour.

Kadala curry or kadala kari is a Kerala delight prepared with chickpeas. The recipe uses black chickpeas, coconut and a few warming spices.

It is traditionally served with Appam or Putti for breakfast. The gluten-free vegan curry is comforting during the summer season.

Amritsari Chole is a signature dish from Punjabi khana khazana. The spicy dish tastes similar to the chole recipe served in any Punjabi dhaba on the streets of India’s capital city.

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Palak chole is a famous North Indian dish made with white chickpeas and spinach. This hearty and comforting dish is usually served with steamed bastmati rice or Indian flatbreads such as, roti, naan, paratha.

Chickpea is a wonder food. From being a staple food in rural India to becoming a marvel in cosmopolitan culinary culture, the journey of chickpeas is as fascinating as it could get.

It may not be good looking but definitely not a boring ingredient.

Is Chickpea Tasty?

Of course, it is tasty. This is why chickpeas are used to prepare a variety of yummy dishes throughout India and the Middle Eastern countries.

What Dishes Can Be Made from Boiled Chickpea?

Boiled chickpeas can be used to make soup, falafel, phuchkas etc.  Chana Kulcha, Chickpea Burger, Manipuri Kelli Chana, Pindi Chana, Bread Chana Basket, Chana Chaat, Ganthia, Chickpea Soup, Kushari, Minted Chickpeas and Crispy Okra, Channa Madra,  Falafel with Pita Bread, Chole Bhature, Hummus with Coriander, Masala Channa, Three Bean Chaat, Ragda.

How Do You Know When Chickpea is Cooked?

You should stir chickpeas a few times while cooking to ensure that they are evenly cooked.

Take a chickpea and try to squeeze it with your fingers to check if it is done. Cooked chickpeas have a soft texture.

What Goes Well with Chickpea?

Mostly all chickpea dishes go well with Indian flatbreads. However, a few can be paired with both rice and roti.

Chickpea snacks are relished without any accompaniment. They are hosts in themselves.

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