When I first read, back in January, that the UN has declared 2016 as International Year of Pulses, I scoffed. Perhaps I even internally snorted. I mean, really, I live in Spain, where so many local dishes include pulses: chickpeas, lentils, beans… Plus I incorporate them into my cooking all the time. So what could possibly be so new and fabulous about that? Maybe someone internal in the UN is a hipster and fancied it might be cool?
What is a Pulse?
But of course I shouldn’t be so up with myself. Let’s start from scratch. What exactly is a pulse?
“Pulses, also known as grain legumes, are a group of 12 crops that includes dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas and lentils.”
– Global Pulse Confederation
Also, they are high in protein, fibre and vitamins. They are sustainable – even though I’m afraid our society likes to throw this word around without thinking twice (grumpy me). They are very popular and important in the developing world, and an excellent source of feedstuff especially for pigs and poultry.
They even have a pledge, in which we should eat pulses at least once a week. It’s cool,… only I already did that at least once a week. So, the Papaya Pieces household has developed it’s own pledge to eat pulses in a better manner. We found the way to do it by accident.
Three Packets of Chickpeas!
Here’s what happened. About a week ago, Mr. H. came back from a trip to the supermarket all by himself beaming with pride. He had bought three packets of dried chickpeas.
Usually I buy ready made chickpeas. I’m a super homemade cook, but until now I would make real dry pulses only once in a while, because they are time consuming. Even though I am a super homemade cook, but my weakness until now was that I’d buy ready made pulses out of a jar.
So… Mr. H. comes back beaming with pride with his loads of dried chickpeas. They are great, he said. You only need to soak them overnight and they’re cooked.
I said: I think you didn’t read the next paragraph. After soaking, cook for a few hours.
Oops! He said.
Anyway, no worries, a couple of days later we made the first batch. To be honest it wasn’t that bad. It’s not as if you guard over them all those hours. You just soak and boil as you go on with your life. Of course, if you compare with opening a jar, rinsing them and voilà, the jar is quicker. But as long as you plan ahead with the dry chickpeas, and go on with your other chores meanwhile, it’s not that bad.
Dry vs. Jar Chickpeas
Let’s compare the costs too. Here’s a screenshot from a supermarket website:
At first glance it seems that the jar is cheaper per kilo than the sack of dry chickpeas. In reality, the jar usually gets incorporated into one meal in whatever dish for 2 people. With the dry chickpeas, we used about 4/5 of the sack, and the dry chickpeas rehydrated into at least twice their initial volume, and out of which we made 4 meals for 2 people. If we had used the whole packet – which we will as from now – that would have been 5 meals. Using the dry chickpeas costs about 60% less per meal. Plus the water and gas used for boiling. So maybe it’s about the same.
Plus the equivalent packaging of that sack would be 5 whole glass jars. I often reuse my jars but I have more than enough at the moment. I don’t know if our dodgy recycling services actually properly recycle them properly or not.
Something else to take into account is that eating pulses from a jar is like eating water with preservatives, no matter how well you rinse them. Whereas eating the real pulses is eating the real thing. You get the real flavour and texture with the real goodness.
We’ve decided that the dry chickpeas win! In general the dry pulses win. So, apart from using up the few pulses in jars that we still have in the pantry, we pledge that as from now we will cook from real dry pulses. Mr. H. has said that he will take charge of rehydrating and cooking the pulses for our cooking in general. It’s fine with me because I usually do the daily cooking and I’m exhausted…
How to Prepare Chickpeas
Pour the dry chickpeas into a big bowl with plenty of water. Take into account that they will become about twice their initial volume once rehydrated. Leave them in the water for at least 12 hours, changing the water once or twice during that time.
After that, place the chickpeas into a large pot and cover with plenty of water. Bring to boil. The boiling time depends on how hard the water is in your area, and is often stated on the packet. In my case I boiled for about 1 1/2 hours.
Make sure you don’t add any salt nor anything else to the water when boiling the chickpeas, as that would increment the boiling time, by a long time.
What is your favourite dish to make with chickpeas?