Chickpeas, or ceci beans, as my family calls them, are one of my all-time favorite foods. Healthy, tasty, versatile, and cheap. I've stopped buying canned chickpeas. Why spend even $.99 per can when I can buy the dried beans in bulk for $.79/lb. and not have to recycle the cans? I can also control the sodium levels.
To prepare dried chickpeas, soak the beans overnight then cook the next day. Before cooking, drain and rinse the beans then put them in a pot and cover with a couple of inches of water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until they are tender. Remove any foam that forms while the beans are cooking. Cooking can take 40 minutes to an hour but I've never had to cook them an hour. One cup of dried beans results in about three cups cooked.
Once they are cooked you can use them any number of ways. Make hummus or falafel. Make chickpea patties. Add them to salads and soups and stews. Then again, you don't have to cook them at all if you are trying a raw food recipe. You can also sprout them using the same technique I used for sprouting lentils and then use them any way you like.
I had a taste for Indian food and there are many Indian recipes that call for chickpeas. I used ideas from many dishes I've tried and just started cooking, grabbing things left and right. After it was done, I had to sit and contemplate how I did it so I could share it with you. So here is the "recipe" as I remember it. It was delicious and filling. It was Summertime comfort food.
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp spicy cilantro-garlic paste
juice of half a lime
seeds of one cardamom pod, crushed
small handful dried curry leaves
salt to taste
water to thin to desired consistency
Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and quickly fry until they sputter. Add asafoetida, turmeric, onions, and carrot and cook for about five minutes, keeping the mix moving in the pan. Add spicy cilantro-garlic paste, crushed cardamom seeds, and tomato paste and combine. Add 2 tablespoons of water to incorporate the tomato paste. Lower the heat a bit and add the chickpeas and cook for several minutes. The moisture will evaporate and you will have a "dry curry" in your pan. Add the garam masala, salt to taste, red pepper flakes, dried curry leaves and the juice of half a lime and combine. Then add the yogurt and combine. Add enough water to reach the consistency you like, keeping in mind that the whole mix will thicken a bit as it cooks and then some more as it sits in the skillet. Let this simmer for just a few minutes to let all the flavors blend then serve hot. Your kitchen will smell wonderful, full of many layers of spices.
I served this with basmati-coconut rice. I call it coconut rice because for half the cooking liquid I used roasted coconut juice. Adds a subtle sweetness and coconut flavor with a few bits of diced coconut too.