Chickpea is a plant that does not exist in the wild, but that is only cultivated.
It is a plant that originated in the western part of the Asian continent, from which it then spread to India, Africa and Europe; moreover, already in ancient times, it was widespread among the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.
The chickpea ranks third in importance in the classification of legumes, just behind the bean and pea.
The dried seeds of chickpea are characterized by being an excellent food for humans, extremely rich in proteins and having a food quality among the most important within the grain legumes.
In the Italian territory, chickpea crops occupy an area of about 3500 hectares, which are found mainly in the southern and island regions.
The chickpea represents an annual plant with an extremely branching and deep root, while the leaves are characterized by an elliptical shape and the flowers are, in most cases, white.
The most common color that traditionally characterizes chickpeas is yellow, but you can also find seeds that have colors such as red or brown.
The chickpea is a plant that can withstand even temperatures up to ten degrees centigrade, but when it falls below this threshold, it has a low cold tolerance, so much so that in the entire Mediterranean basin, chickpea is sown at the end of the winter season and the harvest takes place subsequently during the period between July and August, while in countries characterized by a typically temperate climate, with rather mild winters, sowing takes place during the autumn season.
The chickpea is a rustic plant, which adapts very well to arid-hot climates, since it has excellent resistance to drought, while it does not prefer excessive humidity.
As far as the soil is concerned, the chickpea does not adapt to those that are too fertile, in which it manages to attach with obvious difficulties, while the best soils are those of medium texture or light, even if particularly deep.
Chickpeas are made up of 10.6% water, 19.3% protein, 17% dietary fiber and, in smaller percentages, ashes, fats and carbohydrates.
The main minerals that can be found inside chickpeas are essentially copper, manganese, sodium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium and selenium.
As for vitamins, we can underline a good presence of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate, vitamin C, K and E.
A good presence is also attributable to amino acids, among which aspartic acid, glutamic acid, leucine, arginine, valine and serine abound in particular.
A recent research that was published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism describes all those particular properties that characterize chickpeas, that is, those that perform an action to reduce the levels of "bad cholesterol" found in the blood and, consequently, a protective action against the cardiac system and the heart.
The reasons for these beneficial properties are mainly to be found in the fact that an excellent presence of magnesium and folate can be found inside the chickpeas.
Folate seems to have an excellent activity as regards the reduction of the levels of an amino acid which, when it is present in an excessive quantity in the blood, considerably increases the possibility of heart attack and stroke.
The name of this amino acid is homocysteine.
The excellent amount of magnesium that can be found inside chickpeas, on the other hand, allows for numerous benefits to blood circulation and brings a good amount of nutrients to the body and also serves to reduce the risk of heart attack whose percentage increases when the presence of magnesium in the body decreases).
Inside chickpeas we can also find unsaturated fatty acids, which are particularly widespread with the name of Omega 3 which, in addition to carrying out a preventive function against states of depression, also allow to reduce the level of triglycerides, managing to bring benefits to the heart rhythm, in order to avoid the formation of arrhythmias in the heart.
A particular importance, within chickpeas, is also represented by dietary fibers, given that they have regulatory properties of the functions performed within the human intestine and, at the same time, they ensure that they contribute to the preservation of balanced levels of glucose within the blood.
Dried chickpeas require a particularly long preparation time, which is between twelve and 18 hours, especially as regards the soaking period before actual cooking.
Precisely for cooking, we recommend using an earthenware pan, inside which the chickpeas must be cooked for about three hours over low heat.
Cooking must start essentially in cold water and then it must be brought to a boil over low heat with a lid.
It is important to pay attention to the good cooking of chickpeas, to avoid any type of digestive problem.