When I was growing up, Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, were a regular on our dinner table. The way we made Garbanzo curry, Chole, started by soaking raw garbanzo beans in water overnight. In the morning (EARLY in the morning, like 5.30 AM when she woke up), my mom would put them in a pressure cooker. Once the whistle blew (loudly, thus serving as our alarm to get up for school), she cooked it on low heat for 40 minutes, then made the curry before leaving for work. That evening we knew exactly how dinner conversation would go.

All of us: Chole are really tasty!

Dad adds: How long did you cook it for?

Mom: 40 minutes

Dad: You should have cooked it for 45 minutes. It makes the chickpeas softer & thoroughly cooked.

Mom: They are soft & thoroughly cooked.

Dad: 5 more minutes would have been good.

Mom: 40 minutes are good enough.

Dad: 45 minutes.

Mom: 40 minutes.

And so on…

Don’t tell mom, but I am with my dad on this one. Garbanzos from cans are convenient, but are just barely done. I mostly make my own, so they really are very soft & cooked thoroughly. Real simple. Real tasty. Try it.

At night, set your crockpot on low & put in the raw beans with lots of water (if you want exact measurements, I can’t help you). Add salt now rather than after they are cooked. Add some whole spices – bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon – whatever you have on hand. Adding spices takes their taste to a whole new level! Cover & let the crockpot do its magic. The garbanzos are ready by morning. You can fish out the whole spices or leave them in until you are ready to use the garbanzos. If you are serving some to frenemies, leave the peppercorns in.

What do you like to make with garbanzos? Here are a few my favs. Chole, garbanzo curry as described above, sans the 40-45 minute debate. We also add garbanzos to cooked quinoa for a quick salad or lunch. Have little kids? Try these as finger foods (split them in half before giving it to younger ones). There are many recipes for Garbanzo salad –onions, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, cilantro, mint, avocadoes, lemon juice, jalapenos – add any or all of these. Even without oil or cheese, it tastes awesome! I’ve also tried my hand at making hummus. Umm, no comments on that.

Give homemade garbanzos a try. You really don’t need the canned kind. Target has a crock pot for $10. Best investment ever (actually 2nd best for me, but we’ll talk about that another time)! And if you need raw garbanzo beans, you are lucky to be in Glendale. Is there a single grocery store here that doesn’t carry them? Happy cooking!

Shalini Singh, CEO of the Singh household, vegetarian, foodie, community volunteer.

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