The chickpea (Cicer arietinum) (also garbanzo bean, Indian pea, ceci bean, Bengal gram) is an edible legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Chickpeas are high in protein and one of the earliest cultivated vegetables; 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.
Food features:The plant grows to between 20 and 50 cm 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. Chickpeas need a subtropical or tropical climate with more than 400 millimetres (16 in) of annual rain. They can be grown in a temperate climate but yields will be much lower.
Place of origin:Desi, which has small, darker seeds and a rough coat, cultivated mostly in the Indian subcontinent, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Iran. Kabuli, which has lighter coloured, larger seeds and a smoother coat, mainly grown in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chile, also introduced during the 18th century to the Indian subcontinent.
Nutrition:Chickpeas are a helpful source of zinc, folate and protein.They are also very high in dietary fiber and hence a healthy source of carbohydrates for persons with insulin sensitivity or diabetes. Chickpeas are low in fat and most of this is polyunsaturated. Nutrient profile of desi chana (the smaller variety) is different, especially the fibre content which is much higher than the light coloured variety.
Dietotherapy function:Recent studies by government agencies have also shown that they can assist in lowering of cholesterol in the bloodstream.