Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chickpeas. Why are they so damn hard to cook?

I have just discovered the single best way to cook chickpeas from dried after so many failures. It came, as a suggestion in the margin, from Jude Blereau's book Wholefood. It is, in fact a revelation. Better even than Anna Del Conte's method which I thought was pretty good anyway. Nigella Lawson had recommended Anna's way in the encyclopedic and very sexy How to Eat. But still the meltingly tender and nutty chickpeas I imagined myself cooking elluded me. They were either bullets or a mush.


This way is time consuming, but little of the work involves you standing around worrying over the pot. The texture is wonderful, the chickpeas are perfectly in tact and almost all the work is done by the oven. So simple - and all you need is a bit of forethought and patience:


Cover your desired amount of chickpeas in plenty of clean, cold water. To this add 2 teaspoons of yoghurt and mix well. Leave to soak for at least 24 hours, preferably 36.


Preheat the oven to 160 C. Drain the chickpeas and put into a flameproof casserole dish (I use an oval Le Creuset pot), cover with fresh, cold water and bring to the boil. Boil hard for five minutes. Drain, rinse well and place the chickpeas back into the rinsed out casserole dish and cover with cold fresh water to cover by 10 cms. Add 3 bay leaves, 3 peeled cloves of garlic, a small piece of kombu (this makes the beans more digestible and helps to prevent any 'nasty' side-effects). Bring to the boil gently, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Put the lid on, take off the flame and cook in the oven for anywhere between 5 and 8 hours.


This seems like a long time, and it is, but the results are worth the effort, though as I've said earlier, this isn't really going to tire you out. You may need to top up with boiling water from time to time, so start checking after 4 hours.


Better and far more nutritious than tinned, and much better than disintegrating into the dish!

5 comments:

Wendy said...

Enjoy your blog so much, Lucy, I've decided to start at the beginning and read through. It's like a novel!
I will definitely be trying out this method of cooking chickpeas. Been using the Del Conte method myself and it's only occasionally successful meaning I return to tinned chickpeas more often than not.
By the by, do not leave chickpeas to soak, forget about them and go on holiday. Worst smell in the world.

Lucy said...

Wendy, aren't you lovely?

Will never, ever leave them that long. I can just imagine the smell...

vegeyum said...

The chickpeas are in the oven as I speak .. er, write. They smell divine.

vegeyum said...

.... and in fact, they were divine! You are right, so buttery. I have never tasted them like this before. Wonderful. It will be a mainstay for me, on cold wet winter days when I want the oven on doing magical things for dinner.

Lucy said...

It's quite something, this method, Vegeyum. I don't know why it works so well, but I DO like the 'lazy' aspect of cooking them this way.

The 'stock' they produce after cooking that way is gorgeous, too! So pleased you enjoyed them. Ah, that fragrance...