Hummus, a dip made with ground chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste), has become very popular in the Western world. The funny thing is how something got lost in translation. The name of the dip is ?ummu? bi ?a??na and hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea which we know in the Philippines as garbanzo and which is called chana in South Asia. In short, to call the dip simply as hummus doesn’t really quite capture its essence.
In linguistic mambo-jambo, garbanzo, our local name for the chickpea, is Spanish in etymology. In culinary speak, it’s the pale yellow legume that we often find in stews like menudo, pochero and callos; the same legume that, when sweetened, we find in our glass of halo-halo. Sam likes chickpeas pureed to make a soup.
Chickpea is eaten in many parts of the world. But the form by which the chickpea reaches our kitchen varies. Let’s start with the basic.
Chickpeas are often sold dried. We might be more familiar with the pale ones but there are green chickpeas too. The dried chickpeas need to be soaked, boiled, the outer skin removed then boiled again to the desired tenderness.
If you don’t want to be bothered with the long cooking time and the outer skin removal part, there are split peas. Both green and yellow chickpeas are sold in this form and they cook in less than half the time as whole chickpeas. They are not the same as lentils despite the similarity in appearance. Check the labels carefully when buying split peas so you don’t end up with lentils instead (I’ll write about lentils another time).
If you want to dispense with the cooking part altogether, there’s canned chickpeas.
In the Philippines, there’s sweetened chickpeas — in jars — soaked in sugar syrup.
Finally, there’s chickpea flour.
It’s used for making bread in South Asia, France, Italy and Spain. Chickpea flour is gluten-free. Above, my version of the Italian farinata, a flat bread made with chickpea flour.
Chickpea flour is great for dredging pieces of meat, seafood or meat substitutes prior to frying to create a nice thin crust. In vegan cooking, a paste made with equal parts of chickpea flour and water is used as a substitute for eggs.
What’s with all the talk about chickpeas? I’m making ?ummu? bi ?a??na and falafel for Sam next weekend.