Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chickpeas: Dried vs. Canned

chickpeas cost dried canned
Perhaps from childhood summer days spent playing beneath the pole bean teepees in our backyard garden and years of eating those, amongst other kinds of, home-grown beans, one of my favourite simple meals is beans. From fresh green beans to canned baked beans to refried beans in burritos, I enjoy all kinds of beans. Even the pungent petai bean (appropriately also known as the stink bean or bitter bean) from the jungles of Southeast Asia has a place in my heart.

Up until last week, my pantry supply of beans has always been in the form of Walmart's Great Value canned beans -- with the kidney beans being my favourite for their high protein and fibre content (interestingly the white kidney beans have more protein and fibre than the dark red variety...but I'm ashamed to say I often select the latter for no reason other than wanting to brighten up my meals). Occasionally to mix things up I toss a couple of cans of chickpeas into my shopping basket. One thing I've never bought is canned lentils, knowing that they're much cheaper dried from the bulk bin and a breeze to cook. Unfortunately it wasn't until last week that I discovered that the same holds true for beans.

For the last little while I've been noting the price of dried beans while at the grocery stores. Walmart sells 900 g bags for $2.76. Superstore and No Frills are cheaper yet with 1.8 kg bags for $5.29. However, it was in the spice-saturated air of an unassuming Indian grocery store, Fruiticana, that I hit the dried bean jackpot -- $0.79 per pound (pound! not 100 g) in the bulk bin. Their selection of beans was limited, but I came home with a bag each of chickpeas and lentils.
dried chickpeas recipe
2 cups of dried chickpeas
After a little Googling, I set out to prepare my beans. I measured out 2 cups (370 g) of chickpeas, washed them, and soaked them overnight in a pot of water. Covered by a couple inches of water, I boiled the pre-soaked beans, then turned the heat down to simmer for approximately 50 minutes, at which time taste testing revealed that the chickpeas were sufficiently soft.
dried chickpeas soaking overnight
I covered the dried chickpeas with a couple of inches of water last night...
frugal how to cook dried chickpeas
...and woke up to these swollen beans this morning
The chickpeas approximately tripled in size, so that two cups of dried chickpeas expanded into 6 cups cooked. Prorated, this meant that 1 cup of the cooked chickpeas cost only $0.11! That's about a quarter of the $0.40 per cup cost of the canned version. With the dried chickpeas being so simple to prepare, and (as the internet tells me) readily frozen for future convenience, I'd be hard pressed to justify buying canned beans in the future!
dried chickpeas recipe
the end result
Having been on a kidney bean streak, I'd forgotten how nutty and delicious chickpeas taste. In the past week I've had them for snacks, work lunches, dinners, and mixed with other leftovers into fried rice. That I have another pot soaking for the week ahead attests to how good these beans are!
sriracha roasted chickpeas
one of the many tasty ways to prepare chickpeas -- roasted!

Have you cooked dried beans? If you have any tips, I'd love to hear them!

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