What Is Chickpea?
The chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is a legume that belongs to the family Fabaceae. Chickpeas are rich in proteins, and are grown in many parts of the world for human consumption. Several varieties of chickpea are cultivated, as mentioned below. The plant is one of the earliest cultivated legumes and evidence of chickpea remains, as old as 7,500 years, have been found in the Middle East.
Different Varieties Of Cultivated Chickpea
The chickpea plant grows to a height of 20–50 cm and possesses small, feathery leaves on both sides of the stem. One seedpod of the chickpea bears two to three peas. The flowers are white with violet, pink or blue veins. Several varieties of chickpeas are cultivated across the world. The Bengal gram is the oldest variety and is probably a descendant of the ancestral chickpea form of Cicer reticulatum which originated in Turkey. The Bengal gram is mainly cultivated in the Indian subcontinent, Iran, Mexico, and Ethiopia. Another variety, the Garbanzo bean is grown in parts of Europe, South America, and Northern Africa. A rare variety of the chickpea is grown in Apulia, Italy. Green chickpeas are common in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Uses Of Chickpea
Chickpeas are a nutrient-dense food. The food has a 20% of higher protein content and is also high in dietary fiber, folate, and dietary mineral content. Chickpeas are rich in essential amino acids like aromatic amino acids, tryptophan, lysine, and isoleucine. When cooked, chickpeas are 60% water, 9% protein, 3% fat, and 27% carbohydrates.
Mature chickpeas are either cooked to prepare various delectable dishes or eaten cold in salads. Chickpeas are also ground into flour and several fried dishes can be prepared from this flour.
Chickpeas are also used as a protein and energy source in animal feed. In some parts of the world, the leaves of young chickpea are consumed in the form of cooked green vegetables.
Production Of Chickpea
Chickpea is grown in the Indian subcontinent, the Mediterranean, Australia, the Great Plains region in the Americas, and western Asia. India leads the countries of the world in chickpea production, producing 8,832,500 metric tons of chickpea in 2013. Australia and Pakistan follow by producing 813,300 and 751,000 metric tons in 2013, respectively.