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Scientific classification
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  • Cicer album hort.
  • Cicer arientinium L. [Spelling variant]
  • Cicer arientinum L. [Spelling variant]
  • Cicer edessanum Bornm.
  • Cicer grossum Salisb.
  • Cicer nigrum hort.
  • Cicer physodes Rchb.
  • Cicer rotundum Alef.
  • Cicer sativum Schkuhr
  • Cicer sintenisii Bornm.
  • Ononis crotalarioides M.E.Jones

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The chickpea or chick pea (Cicer arietinum) is a legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. It is also known as gram,[2][3] or Bengal gram,[3] garbanzo[3] or garbanzo bean and sometimes known as Egyptian pea,[2] ceci, cece or chana or Kabuli Chana (particularly in northern India). Its seeds are high in protein. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes: 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.[4]


The name "chickpea" traces back through the French chiche to cicer, Latin for 'chickpea' (from which the Roman cognomen Cicero was taken). The Oxford English Dictionary lists a 1548 citation that reads, "Cicer may be named in English Cich, or ciche pease, after the Frenche tongue." The dictionary cites "Chick-pea" in the mid-18th century; the original word in English taken directly from French was chich, found in print in English in 1388.

The word garbanzo came first to American English as garvance in the 17th century, from an alteration of the Old Spanish word arvanço (presumably influenced by garroba), being gradually anglicized to calavance, though it came to refer to a variety of other beans (cf. Calavance). The current form garbanzo comes directly from modern Spanish. This word is still used in Latin America and Spain to designate chickpeas.[5] Some have suggested that the origin of the word arvanço is in the Greek erebinthos. Another possible origin is the word garbantzu, from Basque — a non-Indo-European tongue — in which it is a compound of garau, seed + antzu, dry.


Domesticated chickpeas have been found in the aceramic levels of Jericho (PPNB) along with Cayönü in Turkey and in Neolithic pottery at Hacilar, Turkey. They were found in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BCE) at Thessaly, Kastanas, Lerna and Dimini, Greece. In southern France Mesolithic layers in a cave at L'Abeurador, Aude have yielded wild chickpeas carbon dated to 6790±90 BCE.[6]

By the Bronze Age, chickpeas were known in Italy and Greece. In classical Greece, they were called erébinthos and eaten as a staple, a dessert, or consumed raw when young. The Romans knew several varieties such as venus, ram, and punic chickpeas. They were cooked down into a broth or roasted as a snack. The Roman gourmet Apicius gives several recipes for chickpeas. Carbonized chickpeas have been found at the Roman legion fort at Neuss (Novaesium), Germany in layers from the first century CE, along with rice.[citation needed]

In Hebrew "chickpea" is "chimtsa (חימצה)" or "chomets (חומץ)" meaning "sour" or "vinegar plant", and chickpeas are mentioned in the Book of Ruth (circa 500BCE): And Boaz said unto her at meal-time: 'Come hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy pita in the chomets.'[n 1] Some later translations of the text are "dip thy morsel in vinegar", as both pita and hummus were not known in Europe in the Middle Ages.

File:India - Varanasi green peas - 2714.jpg
Indian streetseller displaying green chickpeas

Chickpeas are mentioned in Charlemagne's Capitulare de villis (about 800 CE) as cicer italicum, as grown in each imperial demesne. Albertus Magnus mentions red, white and black varieties. Nicholas Culpeper noted "chick-pease or cicers" are less "windy" than peas and more nourishing. Ancient people also associated chickpeas with Venus because they were said to offer medical uses such as increasing sperm and milk, provoking menstruation and urine and helping to treat kidney stones.[7] "White cicers" were thought to be especially strong and helpful.[7]

In 1793, ground-roast chickpeas were noted by a German writer as a substitute for coffee in Europe. In the First World War, they were grown for this use in some areas of Germany. They are still sometimes brewed instead of coffee.[8][9]

Genome sequencing

Sequencing of the chickpea genome has been completed for 90 chickpea genotypes, including several wild species. A collaboration of 20 research organizations, led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) identified more than 28,000 genes and several million genetic markers. Scientists expect this work will lead to the development of superior varieties. The new research will benefit the millions of developing country farmers who grow chickpea as a source of much needed income, as well as for its ability to add nitrogen to the soil in which it grows. Production is growing rapidly across the developing world, especially in West Asia where it has increased four-fold over the past 30 years. India is by far the world largest producer but is also the largest importer.[10]


File:Cicer arietinum HabitusFruits BotGardBln0906a.jpg
Flowering and fruiting chickpea plant

The plant grows to between 20–50 cm (8–20 inches) high and has small feathery leaves on either side of the stem. Chickpeas are a type of pulse, with one seedpod containing two or three peas. It has white flowers with blue, violet or pink veins.


There are three main kinds of chickpea.

Desi has small, darker seeds and a rough coat. It is grown mostly in India and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, as well as in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Iran. Desi means 'country' or 'local' in Hindustani; its other names include Bengal gram or kala chana ("black chickpea" in both Hindi and Urdu) or chhola boot. Desi is probably the earliest variety because it closely resembles seeds found both on archaeological sites and the wild plant ancestor Cicer reticulatum of domesticated chickpeas, which only grows in southeast Turkey, where it is believed to have originated. Desi chickpeas have a markedly higher fiber content than other varieties, and hence a very low glycemic index, which may make them suitable for people with blood sugar problems.[11] The desi type is used to make chana dal, which is a split chickpea with the skin removed.

Bombay chickpeas (Bambai) are also dark but slightly larger than desi. They too are popular in the Indian subcontinent.

Kabuli are lighter-coloured, larger and with a smoother coat, and are mainly grown in the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, Northern Africa, South America and Indian subcontinent. The name means "from Kabul" in Hindi and Urdu, and this variety was thought to come from Kabul, Afghanistan when it was introduced to India in the 18th century.[12] It is called Kabuli chana (काबुली चणा) in Marathi and safed chana in India.

An uncommon black chickpea, ceci neri, is grown only in Apulia, in southeastern Italy. It is larger and darker than the desi variety.

Green chickpeas are common in the state of Maharastra, India. In Marathi, they are called harbhara (हरभरा). Chana dal is also called harbara dal (हरभरा डाळ). Tender, immature harbara roasted on coal before the skin is removed is called hula (हुळा) in Marathi.


Human consumption

Chickpeas are usually rapidly boiled for 10 minutes, and then simmered for a longer period. Dried chickpeas need a long cooking time (1–2 hours) but will easily fall apart when cooked longer. If soaked for 12–24 hours before use, cooking time can be shortened by around 30 minutes. Chickpeas can also be pressure cooked, or sous vide cooked at Script error: No such module "convert"..

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) do not cause lathyrism. Similarly named "chickling peas" (Lathyrus sativus) and other plants of the genus Lathyrus contain the toxins associated with lathyrism.

Mature chickpeas can be cooked and eaten cold in salads, cooked in stews, ground into a flour called gram flour (also known as chickpea flour and besan and used frequently in Indian cuisine), ground and shaped in balls and fried as falafel, or stirred into a batter and baked to make farinata or panelle.

Chickpeas are popular in the Iberian Peninsula. In Portugal it is one of the main ingredients in Rancho, eaten with pasta, and meat, including Portuguese sausages, or with rice. They are also used in other hot dishes with bacalhau and in soup. In Spain, they are used cold in different tapas and salads, as well as in cocido madrileño. In Italy, chickpeas are eaten with pasta or in soup. In Egypt, they are used as a topping for kushari.

Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas, which are often cooked and ground into a paste and mixed with tahini (sesame seed paste), the blend called hummus bi tahini, or chickpeas are roasted, spiced, and eaten as a snack, such as leblebi. By the end of the 20th century, hummus had become commonplace in American cuisine;[13] by 2010, five percent of Americans consumed hummus on a regular basis,[13] and it was present in 17 percent of American households.[14]

Some varieties of chickpeas can be popped and eaten like popcorn.[15]

Chickpeas and Bengal grams are used to make curries and are one of the most popular vegetarian foods in the Indian subcontinent and in diaspora communities of many other countries. Popular dishes in Indian cuisine are made with chickpea flour, such as mirchi bajji and mirapakaya bajji Telugu. In India, as well as in the Levant, unripe chickpeas are often picked out of the pod and eaten as a raw snack and the leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable in salads.

Chickpea flour is used to make "Burmese tofu" which was first known among the Shan people of Burma. The flour is used as a batter to coat various vegetables and meats before frying, such as with panelle, a chickpea fritter from Sicily.[16] Chickpea flour is used to make the Mediterranean flatbread socca and a patty called panisse in Provence, southern France, made of cooked chickpea flour, poured into saucers, allowed to set, cut in strips, and fried in olive oil, often eaten during Lent.

In the Philippines, garbanzo beans preserved in syrup are eaten as sweets and in desserts such as halo-halo. Ashkenazi Jews traditionally serve whole chickpeas at a Shalom Zachar celebration for baby boys.[17]

Guasanas is a Mexican chickpea recipe in which the beans are cooked in water and salt.[18]

Animal feed

Chickpeas serve as an energy and protein source not only in human nutrition but also as animal feed.[19]

Raw chickpeas have a lower trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitor content than peas, common beans and soybeans. This leads to higher nutritional values and fewer digestive problems in non-ruminants. Non-ruminant diets can be completed with 200g/kg of raw chickpeas to promote egg production and growth of birds and pigs. Higher amounts can be used when chickpeas are previously treated with heat.[19]

Experiments have shown that ruminants grow equally well, and produce an equal amount and quality of milk when soybean or cereal meals are replaced with chickpeas. Pigs show the same performance, but growing pigs experience a negative effect of raw chickpea feed; extruded chickpeas can increase performance even in growing pigs. In poultry diet experiments with untreated chickpeas, only young broilers (starting period) showed worse performance. Fish performed equally well when their soybean or cereal diet was replaced by extruded chickpeas.[19]

Secondary components of legumes, such as lecithin, polyphenols, oligosaccharides and amylase, protease, trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitors can lead to lower nutrient availability and thus to negative effects in growth and health of animals (especially in non-ruminants). Ruminants have generally less problems to digest legumes with secondary components, since they can inactivate them in the rumen liquor. Their diets can be supplemented by 300g/kg or more raw chickpea seeds.[19] However, protein digestibility and energy availability can be improved through various treatments, such as germination, dehulling and heat. Extrusion is a very good heat technique to destroy secondary components in legumes, since the proteins are irreversibly denatured. However, over-processing may decrease the nutritional value; it has been shown that extrusion leads to losses in minerals and vitamins, while dry heating does not change the chemical composition.[19]


Chickpeas, mature seeds, cooked no salt
Nutritional value per Script error: No such module "convert".
Energy Script error: No such module "convert".
27.42 g
Sugars 4.8 g
Dietary fiber 7.6 g
2.59 g
Saturated 0.269 g
Monounsaturated 0.583 g
Polyunsaturated 1.156 g
8.86 g
Vitamin A equiv.
1 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.116 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.063 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.526 mg
0.286 mg
Vitamin B6
0.139 mg
Folate (B9)
172 μg
Vitamin B12
0 μg
Vitamin C
1.3 mg
Vitamin E
0.35 mg
Vitamin K
4 μg
Trace metals
49 mg
2.89 mg
48 mg
168 mg
291 mg
7 mg
1.53 mg
Other constituents
Water 60.21 g
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Chickpeas are a nutrient-dense food, providing rich content (> 20% of the Daily Value, DV) of protein, dietary fiber, folate, and certain dietary minerals such as iron and phosphorus.[20][21] Thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc contents are moderate, providing 10-16 percent of the DV (right table). Chickpeas have a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score of about 76 percent,[22] which is higher than fruits, vegetables, many other legumes, and cereals.

Compared to reference levels established by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization,[20] proteins in cooked and germinated chickpeas are rich in essential amino acids like lysine, isoleucine, tryptophan and total aromatic amino acids.[23]

A 100 g serving of cooked chickpeas provides Script error: No such module "convert". (see table). Carbohydrates make up 68 percent of calories, most of which (84 percent) is starch, followed by total sugars and dietary fiber.[20][19] Lipid content is 3 percent, 75 percent of which is unsaturated fatty acids for which linoleic acid comprises 43 percent of total fat.[24]

Effects of cooking

Cooking treatments do not lead to variance in total protein and carbohydrate content. Soaking and cooking of dry seeds possibly induces chemical modification of protein-fiber complexes, which leads to an increase in crude fiber content. Thus, cooking can increase protein quality by inactivating or destroying heat-labile antinutritional factors. Cooking also increases protein digestibility, essential amino acid index, and protein efficiency ratio. Although cooking lowers concentrations of amino acids such as tryptophan, sulphur, lysine, total aromatic and sulphur-containing amino acids, their contents are still higher than proposed by the FAO/WHO reference. Diffusion of reducing sugars, raffinose, sucrose and others into cooking water reduces or completely removes these components. Cooking also significantly reduces fat and mineral contents. The B vitamins riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and pyridoxine dissolve into cooking water at differing amounts.[20]


Germination of chickpeas improves protein digestibility, although at a lower rate than cooking. Germination degrades proteins to simple peptides, and so improves crude protein, non-protein nitrogen and crude fiber content. Germination decreases lysine, tryptophan, sulphur and total aromatic amino acids, but most contents are still higher than proposed by the FAO/WHO reference pattern.[20]

Oligosaccharides, such as stachyose and raffinose, are reduced in higher amounts during germination than during cooking. Minerals and B vitamins are retained more effectively during germination than with cooking. Phytic acids are reduced significantly, but trypsin inhibitor, tannin and saponin reduction is less effective than cooking.[20]

Autoclaving, microwave cooking, boiling

Protein digestibility is improved by all treatments of cooking.Essential amino acids are slightly increased by boiling and microwave cooking when compared to autoclaving and germination. Overall, microwave cooking leads to a significantly lower loss of nutrients compared to autoclaving and boiling.

Finally, all treatments lead to an improved protein digestibility, protein efficiency ratio and essential amino acid index.Microwave cooking seems to be an effective method to prepare chickpeas because of its improvement of nutritional values and its lower cooking time.[20]


Malnutrition and insufficient micronutrient supply have been reported in many regions where chickpeas are a major part of the diet. However, this nutritional lack is not due to the consumption of chickpeas but due to the overall inadequate food supply for people. In some parts of the world, young chickpea leaves are consumed as cooked green vegetables. Especially in malnourished populations, it can supplement important dietary nutrients [25] Chickpea leaves have a significantly higher mineral content than cabbage and spinach.[citation needed] In natural settings, environmental factors and nutrient availability could influence mineral concentrations.[citation needed] Nevertheless, consumption of chickpea leaves is recommended for areas where chickpeas are produced as food for humans.[25]

Preliminary research shows that chickpea consumption may lower blood cholesterol.[26][27]


Chickpeas are grown in the Mediterranean, western Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Australia, the Palouse region, and the Great Plains.

Chickpea output in 2013
File:History of World Production.jpeg
Chickpea Production from 1961 to 2013

India is the world leader in chickpea (Bengal gram) production, and produces some fifteen times as much as the second-largest producer, Australia. Other key producers are Pakistan, Turkey, Burma, Ethiopia and Iran.

Top Chickpea Producing Countries
(in metric tonnes)
Rank (2013) Country 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 Template:Country data India 7,480,000 8,220,000 7,700,000 8,832,500
2 23x15px Australia 602,000 513,338 673,371 813,300
3 23x15px Pakistan 561,500 496,000 291,000 751,000
4 23x15px Turkey 530,634 487,477 518,000 506,000
5 23x15px Burma 441,493 473,102 500,000 490,000
6 23x15px Ethiopia 284,640 322,839 409,733 249,465
7 Template:Country data Iran 267,768 290,243 315,000 295,000
8 23x15px Mexico 131,895 72,143 271,894 209,941
9 23x15px Canada 128,300 90,800 161,400 169,400
10 23x15px United States 87,952 99,881 151,137 157,351
World 10,897,040 11,497,054 11,613,037 13,102,023
Source: FAO[28] Source: FAO[29]


Pathogens in chickpeas are the main cause for yield loss (up to 90 percent). One example is Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cicero, present in most of the major pulse crop growing areas and causing regular yield damages between 10 and 15 percent.[30] From 1978 until 1995 the worldwide number of pathogens increased from 49 to 172, of which 35 have been recorded in India. These pathogens originate from the groups of bacteria, fungi, viruses, mycoplasma and nematodes and show a high genotypic variation. The most widely distributed pathogens are Ascochyta rabiei (35 countries), Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cicero (32 countries) Uromyces ciceris-arietini (25 countries), bean (pea) leaf roll virus (23 countries), and Macrophomina phaseolina (21 countries).[31]

The stagnation of yield improvement over the last decades is linked to the susceptibility to pathogens.[32] Research for yield improvement, such as an attempt to increase yield from 0.8 tons per hectare to two tons per hectare by breeding cold-resistant varieties, is always linked with pathogen-resistance breeding as pathogens such as Ascochyta rabiei and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cicero flourish in conditions such as cold temperature. Recently research started selecting favourable genes for pathogen resistance and other traits through marker-assisted selection. The use of this method is a promising sign for the future to achieve significant yield improvements.[33]

See also


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Gram" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. XI. 1880.
  3. ^ a b c "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Philologos (October 21, 2005). "Chickpeas — On Language". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  5. ^ Garbanzo bean, Oxford Reference
  6. ^ Zohary, Daniel and Hopf, Maria, Domestication of Plants in the Old World (third edition), Oxford University Press, 2000, p 110
  7. ^ a b Nicholas Culpeper. Chick-Pease, or Cicers. The Complete Herbal (1652, originally titled The English Physitian). 
  8. ^ Chickpea,, retrieved 29 August 2008
  9. ^ Chickpea,, retrieved 28 August 2008
  10. ^ Chickpea: An ancient crop for the modern world ICRISAT. Downloaded 26 January 2014.
  11. ^ Mendosa, David, Chana Dal,, retrieved 31 January 2008
  12. ^ Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops, Cicer arietinum subsp. arietinum,, retrieved 31 January 2008
  13. ^ a b Marks, Gil (2010), Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, John Wiley and Sons, pp. 269-271
  14. ^ Elena Ferretti (April 5, 2010). "There's Hummus Among Us". Fox News. 
  15. ^ Deppe, Carol. The Resilient Gardener. Chelsea Green, 2010, p. 241
  16. ^, Chickpea Fritters: Panelle, retrieved 31 January 2008
  17. ^ Chickpeas Garbanzo Beans Hummus Falafel,
  18. ^ Guasanas recipe on Recidemia
  19. ^ a b c d e f Bampidis, V.A.; Christodoulou, V. (2011). "Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum L.) in animal nutrition: A review". Animal Feed Science and Technology 168: 1–20. doi:10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2011.04.098. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g El-Adawy, T.A. (2002). "Nutritional composition and antinutritional factors of chickpeas (Cicer arietinum L.) undergoing different cooking methods and germination". Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 57 (1): 83–97. PMID 11855623. 
  21. ^ Jukanti AK, Gaur PM, Gowda CL, Chibbar RN (2012). "Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review". Br J Nutr 108 (Suppl 1): S11–26. PMID 22916806. doi:10.1017/S0007114512000797. 
  22. ^ Khatoon N, Prakash J (2004). "Nutritional quality of microwave-cooked and pressure-cooked legumes". Int J Food Sci Nutr 55 (6): 441–8. PMID 15762308. doi:10.1080/09637480400009102. 
  23. ^ Milán-Carrillo J, Valdéz-Alarcón C, Gutiérrez-Dorado R, Cárdenas-Valenzuela OG, Mora-Escobedo R, Garzón-Tiznado JA, Reyes-Moreno C (2007). "Nutritional properties of quality protein maize and chickpea extruded based weaning food". Plant Foods Hum Nutr 62 (1): 31–7. PMID 17243010. doi:10.1007/s11130-006-0039-z. 
  24. ^ "Nutrition facts for Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt, 100 g, USDA Nutrient Database, version SR-21". Conde Nast. 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  25. ^ a b Ibrikci, H.; Knewtson, S.J.B.; Grusak, M.A. (2003). "Chickpea leaves as a vegetable green for humans: evaluation of mineral composition". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 83: 945–950. doi:10.1002/jsfa.1427. 
  26. ^ Pittaway, JK; Robertson, IK; Ball, MJ (2008). "Chickpeas may influence fatty acid and fiber intake in an ad libitum diet, leading to small improvements in serum lipid profile and glycemic control". Journal of the American Dietetic Association 108 (6): 1009–13. PMID 18502235. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.03.009. 
  27. ^ Mixed Bean Salad (information and recipe) from The Mayo Clinic Healthy Recipes. Accessed February 2010.
  28. ^ "Production of Chickpea by countries". UN Food & Agriculture Organization. 2011. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  29. ^ "Production of Chickpea by countries". UN Food & Agriculture Organization. 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-13. 
  30. ^ Datta, J.; Lal, N (2012). "Application of molecular markers for genetic discrimination of fusarium wilt pathogen races affecting chickpea and pigeonpea in major regions of india". European Journal of Agronomy 58 (1): 55–65. doi:10.1170/T921. 
  31. ^ Sheila, J.; Sharma, N. (1996). "A World list of Chickpea and Pigeonpea Pathogens". International Crops Research Institue for Semi-Arid Tropics,ICRISAT (5). 
  32. ^ Pfaff, T; Kahl, G (2003). "Mapping of gene-specific markers on the genetic map of chickpea ("Cicer atietinum"L)". Molecular Genetic Genomics 269: 243–251. doi:10.1007/s00438-003-0828-0. 
  33. ^ Millan, Teresa; Heather, J.Clarke; Kadambot, H.M.Siddique; (2006). "Chickpea molecular breeding:New tools and concepts". Euphytica 147: 81–103. doi:10.1007/s10681-006-4261-4. 


  1. ^ Book of Ruth 2-14: "יֹּאמֶר לָה בֹעַז לְעֵת הָאֹכֶל, גֹּשִׁי הֲלֹם וְאָכַלְתְּ מִן-הַלֶּחֶם, וְטָבַלְתְּ פִּתֵּךְ, בַּחֹמֶץ"

External links