Few foods have played a greater role in human history than the humble chick pea. This versatile legume was among the first crops ever grown by humans, it is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and it is has played a pivotal role in some of the most famous chapters in human history. Let’s take a closer look at this incredible food.
Wild chick peas first grew in what is now modern day Syria and Turkey and they were an important part of the early hunter-gatherer’s diet. When people first began growing their own crops – more than 10,000 years ago – chick peas were among the first to be planted and the benefits were huge. Domesticated chick peas proved to be far less vulnerable to disease than wild chick peas as they ripen during the summer rather than the winter, and having a reliable food source made it easier to support larger and more permanent settlements.
Chick peas fast became known as a food of the common people as they provided a cheap source of protein to those who couldn’t afford meat. From Ancient Egypt to Ancient Greece and right throughout the Roman Empire, chick peas were used as a way to keep people fed, strong and healthy. To this day chick peas remain a popular food of the masses wherever they are eaten, from Lebanon and India through to China, Sudan and even the United States.
From the early days of chick peas it was clear that they were more than just something good to eat. The Roman Empire’s most important agricultural expert, Columella, noticed that crops grown after a chick pea harvest would produce far greater yields – this realization is credited with boosting crop production throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Scientists would later discover that chick peas help to increase nitrogen levels in soil, therefore benefitting whatever is grown after them.
Chick peas are also one of the world’s most nutritious foods. The chick pea seed itself contains protein, fibre, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and magnesium and even the leaves of a chick pea plant contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals. One of the reasons why traditional Lebanese food is so healthy is due to our wide use of chick peas.
Chick peas are the central ingredient in hommus, which is one of Lebanon’s best known and most delicious foods. The word hommus itself even means chick pea in Arabic! Hommus is made by cooking, mashing and combining chick peas with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and tahini, and this delicious dip has been eaten throughout the Middle East for thousands of years.
While chick peas have become part of almost every culture on earth, no one knows how to prepare and flavour this magical food quite like the Lebanese. To taste the humble chick pea at its absolute best, drop by Manoosh or order online, you will be amazed at how good chick peas can taste!