Black Chickpeas belong to a very ancient variety of chickpeas, typical of the Central and South Italy regions like Lazio, Umbria, but mostly Basilicata and Apulia.
Black Chickpeas flavour is more intense than the standard ones, ideal for many preparations, from soup to pasta dish to salad.
As big as a grain of corn, they have a black, wrinkled skin, whilst inside they are white-yellow. Their flavour and nutritional characteristics are similar to those of common chickpeas but richer in iron, tastier and more aromatic.
They are very ancient legumes, even they were already cultivated during the Bronze Age. Some time ago they were almost about to disappear.
Black Chickpeas contain three times the amount of fiber contained in their cousins. This characteristic makes them definitely satiating. In addition, consuming black chickpeas regularly improves the functioning of the intestine and keeps the level of glucose in the blood under control. They are also rich in vitamins, especially C, K, E and B group vitamins, as well as mineral salts such as magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. But the black chickpea is mostly known to contain high amounts of iron, in the past, precisely because of this characteristic, it was particularly recommended for pregnant women and those who had just given birth.
As it is so rich in nutrients, the black chickpea is much more caloric than its light variant, so much so that it is often used as a source of protein in vegetarian and vegan diets. And again: these legumes also have a high carbohydrate content, which makes them a perfect food for those who suffering from energy loss.
How to cook them?
Ok let’s face it, Black Chickpeas are legumes that need calm and time, thus make yourselves comfy and no hurry. At the end, however, they will know how to repay you for the wait because they are tasty indeed and with bay leaf, garlic and olive oil even more. If you want to indulge yourself and add a few pieces of lard or smoked bacon, do it without any delay and they will be over.
Black chickpeas do not require special care to be cooked, however they require a rather long preparation time: being small, they tend to retain very little moisture once dried thus the hydration time is extended They necessarily need soaking, from 12 to 18 hours and about 3 hours for cooking. However, they might be soaked also for at least 24-36 hours. This time which seems infinite will actually help to shorten the cooking time afterwards.
Placing Black Chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them completely and abundantly with cold water. They should never remain uncovered.
Change the water at least 2 times during soaking, rinse them well before cooking.
Never use the soaking water to cook them, it needs a change.
Their flavour can be intensified by the use of certain aromas. Among the most suitable spices to use when cooking black chickpeas, the first one is certainly bay leaf, which in addition to intensifying the flavour also make these legumes easier to digest. Garlic, olive oil, rosemary, sage or oregano to follow.
Cooking Black Chickpeas with a normal pot is possible and very easy: take a pot and fill it with cold water. If you have it, however, it is preferable to use a crockpot, because this material has the ability to maintain the flavour and properties of black chickpeas. And after all is so scenographic!
Put the pot on the fire and, if you want, you can also add a clove of garlic to the cooking water, which enhances the flavour of these legumes: however, remember to remove the garlic once the water has started boiling. Once this is done, you can throw black chickpeas in the pot, covering them with a lid.
The black chickpeas must be cooked over a low heat to prevent them from becoming too hard once cooked. Don’t be frightened if, during cooking, the water turns an intense black colour, this is definitely normal. They should cook for at least 2 hours and half or even 3, then they are ready to be enjoyed on their own or in a pasta.