Buttery hummus, spicy stews, and summer salads — no matter how you prefer your chickpeas, often referred to as garbanzo beans, you really can’t go wrong. You can prepare your choice of cuisine using either canned or dried chickpeas; either form of the legume is certain to get the job done. Once soaked, however, dried chickpeas typically yield the best flavor, so stock up on a few bags. You never know when you’ll have a hankering for hummus.
Indeed, when making hummus — one of the most popular chickpea dishes — be sure to use baking soda during the soaking phase. Baking soda primes the legume’s skin to easily disintegrate while cooking and will ultimately yield a spread with a smoother consistency. To allow the chickpea flavors to truly settle, refrigerate your hummus overnight. You’ll be thankful in the morning.
Yet while hummus is a common vehicle for chickpeas, Israel is not the legume’s largest producer. Rather, look further east than the Mediterranean. One Asian country produces the world’s most significant quantity of chickpeas, with the legume essential to its culinary rotation.
Chana masala, anyone? With a slew of rich, vegetarian dishes, Indian cuisine certainly makes the most of chickpeas. It’s therefore unsurprising that the country produces the world’s largest amount of the legume, per Statista. In 2020, India produced a chickpea volume of more than 11 million metric tons. For comparison, worldwide production of chickpeas amounted to roughly 15 million metric tons that same year.
Clearly, India is carrying the team, though the country’s infatuation with chickpeas is not new. According to NPR, the chickpea has roots in Indian cuisine that predate the legume’s trendy status in Western countries. Chickpea flour, for example, has become increasingly mainstream in America, when, in actuality, the flour has surfaced throughout Indian cuisine for years. Foods ranging from Indian soups to vegetables and even desserts all take full advantage of the flour.
Trailing behind India, Turkey is the second highest producer of chickpeas, yielding roughly 630,000 metric tons of the legume. Pakistan and Myanmar follow in third and fourth places, respectively (via Statista). Chickpea production is truly a global affair. Yet, according to Reuters, the world should brace itself for a chickpea shortage. Global supply can’t keep up with demand, thanks to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and weather disasters that have impacted crop production. The global chickpea supply is predicted to decline by up to 20%, while prices of the legume may soon skyrocket.
So, whether you’re craving hummus or a rich stew, consider where your chickpeas are coming from — and savor every bite of this global commodity.