Botanical name: Cicer arietinum
The chickpea is the third most important grain legume in the world, after the bean and the pea. The cultivated area in the world is about 11 million hectares.
The dried seeds of chickpea are an excellent food for humans, rich in proteins (15-25%) of food quality among the best in legumes from grain.
Origines and history
The chickpea is native to western Asia from which it spread to India, Africa and Europe in very remote times.
Appearance and Properties
Generally, the size of the seeds is decisive for the commercial value of chickpeas: there are large-seeded varieties and small-seeded varieties. In the markets where this legume is consumed whole, large-seeded chickpeas are marketed, appreciating them the more the larger the seed, while in the markets where food preparations that require powdering are preferred, small-seeded chickpeas prevail.
Rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, K, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and zinc, chickpeas are useful for controlling cholesterol and blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of diabetes. They are also an excellent diuretic food, favoring the elimination of excess salts in the body. In fact, regular consumption of chickpeas is recommended for those suffering from stones. According to recent research, these legumes also have a valuable antitumor function.
The chickpea is an annual plant, with a deep branched root (up to 1.20 m), which makes it very resistant in arid soils. Throughout the Mediterranean basin, chickpea is sown in late winter and harvested in July-August. It is a very rustic plant, suitable for the hot-arid climate, because it resists drought very well while it does not tolerate excessive humidity. The most suitable soils are those of medium texture or light, as long as they are deep, where the chickpea can fully manifest its characteristic resistance to drought.
The chickpea harvest is traditionally done by uprooting the plants by hand and leaving them to complete the drying in the field in batons. A well-tended chickpea crop can produce over 2-3 t/ha of grain.
Chickpea was one of the favorite foods of gladiators because it was very energetic. The botanical name Cicer arietinum is attributed to chickpea due to its shape that resembles the head of a ram.