Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is the world's third most important pulse after common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) and pea (Pisum sativum). India is the world leader in chickpea (Bengal gram) production followed by Pakistan and Turkey. Chickpeas are nutritionally enriched with zinc, folate and protein. This is also good source of dietary fiber which in turn excellent healthy source of carbohydrates for persons with insulin sensitivity or diabetes. Chickpeas are low in polyunsaturated fat and 100 grams of mature boiled chickpeas contains 164 calories, 2.6 grams of fat (of which only 0.27 grams is saturated), 7.6 grams of dietary fiber and 8.9 grams of protein. Chickpeas also provide dietary phosphorus (49-53 mg/100 g) with some sources citing the garbanzo's content as about the same as yogurt and close to milk. Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) do not cause lathyrism while Chickling peas (Lathyrus sativus) and other plants of the genus Lathyrus contain the toxins associated with lathyrism.Recent studies have also shown that they can be helpful in lowering of blood cholesterol level. The plant grows up to 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 two types of chickpea:
1. Desi chana: It has darker seeds and a rough coat and commonly cultivated in the Indian subcontinent, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Iran. The Desi is also known as Bengal gram or kala chana.
2. Kabuli chana: It has lighter coloured, larger seeds and a smoother coat and mainly grown in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chile. Kabuli or safed chana is the kind widely grown throughout the Mediterranean.
Desi is closely resembles seeds found both on archaeological sites and the wild plant ancestor (Cicer reticulatum) of domesticated chickpea which only grows in southeast Turkey. Desi chickpeas have a markedly higher fiber content than Kabulis and have very low glycemic index which is helpful in various blood sugar problems. The desi type is used to make Chana Dal which is type of split chickpea without skin. Chickpeas and Bengal grams are used to make curries and are one of the most popular vegetarian foods in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the UK. Dried chickpeas need a long cooking time (1-2 hours) but will easily fall apart when they are generally soaked for 12-24 hours in water before use and hence, cooking time can be shortened by around 30 minutes by this procedure.
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Dr. Kirti Rani,
Assistant Professor (II),
Amity Institute of Biotechnology,
Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Noida,
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