You don’t need to buy cans and you’ll never have to say again: The chickpeas were as hard as rocks, because below you’ll learn how to cook garbanzo beans the easy way and get them tender each and every time.
When I was a child, you could buy cooked pulses in small shops that made them in huge pots every morning. They were exactly as if you had cooked them at home and my mother used to buy some for the whole family once a week: lentils, garbanzo beans, beans… We were allowed to choose.
Although you can still find cooked beans in some traditional neighborhoods or markets, those shops are becoming rare so I cook them myself, and the older I get the more I like eating and cooking garbanzo beans and other pulses.
I have been cooking dried garbanzo beans for years now and there’s one thing that makes or breaks it when you are cooking dried beans: quality. It may sound obvious (a truism) and even a little bit silly to you because you could say it about every food, but this is truly the big secret for getting your beans tender every time without effort: the dried beans you use must be top quality: either heirloom, whole, natural or organic.
I hear people recommending mineral water and rainwater to cook the beans, and it’s true, both help to get your dried beans tender —I myself have used rainwater when I had some— but it may become too cumbersome and not work every time either.
Something else I have tested is that the small varieties, which are usually heirlooms, tend to be easier to cook and get tender than the larger varieties. Whatever you do, don’t buy the cheapest industrial dried beans from the supermarket, it’s not worth it and anyway, dried beans are already cheap enough even if they are from the health food store.
Once you get hold of some first-quality dried beans, follow our instructions for cooking chickpeas and you should be all right.
How to cook garbanzo beans and some tips
- Add the dried chickpeas to a deep bowl and a handful of salt —about 1 oz or 20-25 g salt per 1 pound or 1/2 kg garbanzo beans. If you have coarse salt at hand, it’s even better.
Some cooks like to add half a teaspoon of baking soda, but we much prefer the salt method.
- Add water and soak the dry chickpeas overnight for about 12 hours.
- Next morning, drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Add the chickpeas to a pot and cover them well with water.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- When it begins to boil, turn down the heat to medium-low and cook them covered for one and a half to two hours depending on the chickpea variety. Generally speaking, the smaller they are the less cooking time they’ll need.
- Try to start with enough water, but if you have to add more, use boiling water.
- It is essential that the chickpeas boil steadily during the cooking.
- Try not to uncover the pot during the cooking, particularly the first hour
- Add the salt towards the end.
- When the garbanzo beans are tender, remove the chickpeas from the heat and drain them.
Pressure cooker method
Drain the soaked chickpeas, rinse them, and place them in a pressure cooker with water to cover and salt. Usually, chickpeas will be tender in about thirty minutes, but you need some experience to know the exact cooking time.
For a while, in some circles chickpeas and other pulses were associated with poverty and it was as if nobody wanted to eat them anymore, but now they are back again. Chickpeas are a healthy energy food and we should all eat some sort of dried beans once a week and if you are vegetarian more than once.
I have mixed feelings about three-starred chefs, perhaps because we stubbornly love traditional Mediterranean cuisine. However, there’s one thing you can’t ignore. By incorporating humble beans in their select restaurant menus with care and creativity, those chefs have dignified the consumption of dried beans and boosted the growing and marketing of ingredients like legumes by local farmers, particularly the heirloom varieties that sometimes were about to disappear.
So if you ever thought garbanzo beans were insipid, let’s hope you’ll change your mind. Here are some ideas for eating and combining chickpeas:
The Arabic Mediterranean countries use them in popular foods like hummus, falafel and couscous. Catalan cuisine uses this nutritious legume in winter soups, with shrimps, and in the Lent with salt cod and spinach.
You can combine chickpeas with mushrooms, allioli, potatoes, sofregit and so many more Mediterranean foods.