Better, More Authentic Middle Eastern Food Begins with Dried Garbanzo Beans
Canned garbanzo beans are a great option when you're in a hurry. But with just a bit of pre-planning, you can cook your own dried garbanzo beans and have an abundance of cheaper, better-tasting plant protein for your favorite Middle Eastern recipes. Here's why you might want to consider switching from cans to home-cooked garbanzos
Dried Garbanzo Beans Are Half the Cost
While it's true that a can of beans is still one of the better values at the grocery store, dried beans are an even bigger bargain. One pound of dried chickpeas is the equivalent of four 15-ounce cans of drained chickpeas. And the dried variety averages about half the cost of those cans.
Dried Garbanzo Beans Taste Better
To get Middle Eastern dishes that are as authentic as possible, you really should use dried, not canned beans. You'll notice not only a better texture, but a cleaner, nuttier flavor that's not masked by too much sodium or by the metallic aftertaste of canned varieties. If you're making beans yourself, you can control how much salt and other flavors to add until they're exactly the way you want them. And you can cook them perfectly — not too firm, not too mushy — which is important for dishes that require a firmer texture, like hummus.
Dried Beans Are Preferred by Chefs
In restaurant kitchens all over the world, chefs know that one of the easiest kitchen chores is to set a pot of beans to soak one night, then put them in a slow cooker or on a low flame at a gentle simmer the next day.
Chef's Secrets for Preparing Dried Garbanzo Beans
Here are some tips that the pros swear by:
- Use baking soda. For silky smooth garbanzo bean dishes without a hint of graininess, you need to get rid of the beans' thick skins. Chefs know that a common kitchen ingredient, baking soda, is the secret. Soak your dried beans overnight in water to which you've added a teaspoon of baking soda, then add another teaspoon to rinsed and drained beans when you first put them in a cooking pot to warm them up.
- Keep skimming. Once you've added water and brought beans to a boil, reduce the heat to a slow simmer. The beans don't require constant attention, but you should try to check now and then and remove the foam that will rise to the top. Called aquafaba, this foam contains the thick skins that the baking soda encouraged the beans to shed. You can discard the foam or use it in vegan recipes.
- Freeze leftovers. Most beans freeze well, and garbanzos are no exception. Scoop two or three cups of cooled, cooked beans into a freezer-safe container or bag, label well and freeze. They'll taste their best up to six months after freezing.
Hummus Recipes for Your Dried Garbanzo Beans
Swap out the canned beans called for in the following recipes with home-cooked garbanzos of your own. You won't believe the difference.
Not everyone is a fan of tahini, so this recipe from Donalyn leaves it out entirely. "It only takes minutes and is a favorite with my kids," says the recipe's creator.
"This hummus can be made one day ahead," says MARBALET. "Just bring to room temperature before serving."
Generations of Roy Hobbs' family have enjoyed this heirloom recipe, which comes with the suggestion to serve it with warm pita bread. Check out the video to see how easy this "real thing" is to pull together.
If you're looking for a copycat recipe, "This is the secret combination straight from a Boston restaurant," says RC2STEP.
Andrew calls this "a spicy hummus to liven up the appetizer table."
"This recipe is a fun twist on traditional hummus recipes," SavvyHostess says. "The chipotle pepper and cumin lend a bit of heat and smokiness, while the cilantro brightens the flavor."
Check out our complete collection of Middle Eastern Recipes.