Chickpeas: Pleasant Texture, High Nutrition Value, Low in Calories, Easy to Cook

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Western-style chickpea dishes. Stir-fried chickpeas and shrimp with curry powder, foreground, and baked chickpeas with tomatoes and cheese

With dietary health consciousness growing, beans are increasingly used as a nutritious, low-calorie cooking ingredient. In recent years, beans grown overseas have become more readily available in Japan. Cooking expert Junko Takagi has shared the recipes for two simple dishes using chickpeas.

Chickpeas are round beans with a beak-like protrusion. They are native to West Asia, and all chickpeas distributed in Japan are imported. According to the Finance Ministry’s trade statistics, their import volume in 2022 was 1,919 tons, 2.6 times the volume 20 years earlier.

“Chickpeas are being sold in more and more supermarkets and are used by many people in home cooking,” said Nihon Mamerui Kyokai, a Tokyo-based public interest incorporated foundation that promotes the study and consumption of beans.

This time, Takagi used boiled, prepackaged chickpeas. If you use dried chickpeas, rinse and then soak them in water four times their volume for 8 to 10 hours. Heat the water with the chickpeas over medium heat. After it comes to a boil, continue heating the water for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the scum while simmering.

“Chickpeas’ flavor is easy to combine with any ingredient. They’re also easy to cook, so I recommend chickpeas,” Takagi said.

The first dish is stir-fried chickpeas and shrimp with curry powder

“It’s similar to sabzi in Indian cuisine. In sabzi, vegetables and spices are stir-fried and simmered,” Takagi said.

When eating, the sweetness of the chickpeas and the sourness of the tomato juice spread across your palate with the aroma of the spices lingering in your mouth.

Stir-fried chickpeas and shrimp with curry powder

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

  • 150 grams chickpeas (boiled)
  • 100 grams peeled shrimp
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 1/4 onion
  • 2 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 100 grams carrot
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • A pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
  • Chervil as needed
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/5 tsp salt
  • A pinch of pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Devein shrimp, sprinkle with salt and lightly massage. Rinse, drain and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

    2. In a frying pan with olive oil, add garlic and chopped ginger and stir-fry over medium-high heat. When fragrant, add chopped onion and cook until softened. In the following order, add chopped fresh shiitake mushrooms without stems, grated carrots, and red bell pepper cut into 7-8 millimeter cubes, and cook in this order.

    3. Add the shrimp and cook until the surface turns white, then add curry powder and stir. When fragrant, add tomato juice and white wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. Add chickpeas, mix, and stir. Season with 1/5 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of coarsely ground black pepper. Garnish with chervil for color.

    Next is baked chickpeas and tomatoes with cheese. Soft, crumbly chickpeas and sausage go well with mild cheese. The trick is to mix the ingredients well so that they are evenly distributed. “Chickpeas don’t fall apart easily, so you can mix them well,” Takagi said.

    Baked chickpeas and tomatoes with cheese

    Ingredients: (Serves 2)

    • 150 grams chickpeas (boiled)
    • 1 clove garlic (minced)
    • 1/3 onion
    • 80 grams shimeji mushrooms
    • 4 sausages
    • 5 small tomatoes
    • 70 grams grated cheese
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1/5 tsp salt
    • A pinch of pepper

    • Directions:

      1. Melt butter in a frying pan. Add garlic to the butter and heat. When fragrant, add onion cut into 1 centimeter cubes.

      2. Remove the hard base from shimeji mushrooms. Cut shimeji mushrooms and sausages, both into 1-centimeter-wide pieces. Add them in this order to the frying pan and cook further. Add small tomatoes and chickpeas, mix, and season with salt and pepper.

      3. Put the ingredients in a baking dish, cover with grated cheese, and bake in a toaster oven for about 5 minutes.

      “Chickpeas can be a great ingredient in a main dish. Please try them,” Takagi said.