Know your Chickpea – Botany
The plant grows to between 20 and 50 cm high and has small feathery leaves on either side of the stem.
Chickpeas are a type of pulse, with one seedpod containing two or three peas.
It has white flowers with blue, violet or pink veins.
Chickpeas need a subtropical or tropical climate with more than 400 millimetres (16 in) of annual rain.
They can be grown in a temperate climate but yields will be much lower.
Know your Chickpea – Origins
Domesticated chickpeas have been found in the aceramic levels of Jericho along with Cayï¿½nï¿½ in Turkey and in Neolithic pottery at Hacilar, Turkey. They are found in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BCE) at Thessaly, Kastanas, Lerna and Dimini. In southern France Mesolithic layers in a cave at L’Abeurador, Aude have yielded wild chickpeas carbon dated to 6790ï¿½90 BC.
By the Bronze Age, chickpeas were known in Italy and Greece.
In classical Greece, they were called erï¿½binthos and eaten as a staple, a dessert, or consumed raw when young.
The Romans knew several varieties such as venus, ram, and punic chickpeas. They were both cooked down into a broth and roasted as a snack. The Roman gourmet Apicius gives several recipes for chickpeas. Carbonized chickpeas have been found at the Roman legion fort at Neuss (Novaesium), Germany in layers from the first century AD, along with rice.
In 1793, ground-roast chickpeas were noted by a German writer as a coffee substitute in Europe and in the First World War, they were grown for this in some areas of Germany.
Chickpeas are still sometimes brewed instead of coffee.