In all the excitement of cutting edge plant-based ingredients, products, and dishes, it’s easy to forget the humble legume that’s been there for us all along: the incredible, edible chickpea.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are typically beige, but they can also be found in red, green, and black varieties. Au naturel, chickpeas have a creamy, almost nutty flavor, but they have an amazing versatility that makes them perfect for a huge range of dishes.
They’re also cheap, often readily available, and nutrient-dense. Whether tinned or dried, chickpeas are a rich source of protein and fiber along with iron, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and B6, also known as folate, which supports other vitamin absorption.
There are hundreds of ways to prepare chickpeas, from egg-style scrambles to omelets, bean burgers to desserts, as well as cocktails and even ice cream. (Plus the Middle Eastern and vegetarian staple of hummus, a tried-and-tested classic for pack lunches or parties.)
Here are some of our very favorite chickpea recipes.
The very best chickpea recipes
This basic recipe is a veganized version of classic French meringue, making it the perfect choice for whatever meringue-based sweet treats you’re cooking up. It uses aquafaba, which is the viscous liquid in which chickpeas have been soaked, cooked, and stored. (You can also substitute juice from cannellini or soybeans, but chickpeas are arguably the best choice.)
Thanks to its emulsifying and binding properties, aquafaba can easily replace egg whites in almost any recipe, including meringue. While you can use it straight from the tin, reducing it on the stove makes it thicker, easier to whip, and closer to egg whites in consistency.
- 1 ¼ cup (300ml) aquafaba (drained from 2 cans of chickpeas)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (check that it is vegan)
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar (or 1 tsp lemon juice)
Pour the contents of 2 cans of chickpeas through a fine sieve into a measuring cup and collect 1 ¼ cup (300ml) of liquid. Discard or store any excess.
Place the aquafaba in a saucepan and then turn on the heat. Reduce the liquid for 15 minutes on a low heat until it is reduced by half. Use an accurate scale to weigh it after 15 minutes.
Once you reach ½ cup (150ml), place it into a large bowl or a stand mixer and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once cool, use a hand mixer or the balloon attachment of a stand mixer to whip up the aquafaba. Start at a low-speed for 5 minutes until light and frothy and then turn up the speed to reach soft peaks. After 10 minutes, slowly add in the caster sugar one spoon at a time.
Once fully incorporated, keep whisking until you reach firm peaks.
Your aquafaba is now ready to use! You can use this meringue for a variety of desserts. Fold in some melted chocolate for a delicious chocolate mousse, or pipe small shapes onto a baking tray with parchment and bake at 120C for 1 hour to create meringue kisses.
Butter chickpea curry
Chickpeas are a staple ingredient in Indian cooking, and this modified version of a traditional chicken makhani dish (commonly known as “butter chicken”) makes them the star of the show. With a tangy, creamy, tomato sauce, butter chickpea curry makes a deliciously nutritious, low-impact main meal for any night of the week.
Fun fact: traditional butter chicken curries were used as a tasty way to finish off leftover tandoori chicken from previous meals. So get out those dried chickpeas that have been in your cupboard since 2019 and get cooking!
Butter Chickpea Curry
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
- 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red chili powder (add more or less depending on your spice preference)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- Fresh coriander and extra non-dairy yogurt to serve
Remove any excess liquid from the drained chickpeas with a dish towel.
Add half of the olive oil and half of the vegan butter. Once the butter has melted, add the chickpeas and cook until they begin to brown. Set aside in a bowl.
In another bowl, combine the yogurt, crushed tomatoes, minced garlic, minced ginger, garam masala, turmeric, ground cumin, chili powder, ground coriander and salt.
In a large saucepan, heat the remaining oil and vegan butter on high heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and cook for a few minutes until it begins to turn clear.
Add the yogurt mixture to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-high, allowing to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Carefully transfer to a blender and process until smooth and creamy.
Add the sauce back to the pan, along with the chickpeas. Cooking for a final 10 minutes to thicken the sauce.
Serve immediately with rice, fresh coriander and a little extra non-dairy yogurt.
Chickpea tuna salad
Like many chickpea-based recipes, this tuna salad is quick, healthy, delicious, and useful for anything from a lunchtime sandwich to a sushi dinner for friends and family. It’s also easily customizable, and adding some fresh chilis or dried nori seaweed (for a surprisingly authentic “fishy” flavor) can shake things up a bit. It even works for casseroles and pasta bakes!
Chickpea Tuna Salad
- 2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1 sprig dill, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons baby capers
- 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and white pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas until most of them have been crushed (a few whole ones are fine).
Add the celery, scallion, dill and baby capers. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
Finally, add the mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper, mixing until evenly distributed.
Serve immediately or store in the fridge until needed.