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What Are Garbanzo Beans?


  • “Garbanzo” is the Spanish word for “chickpea”
  • Have been grown for more than 7,000 years
  • Popular in the cuisines of southwestern Asia, northern India, Spain, Italy, and Latin America

Scientific Name: Cicer Arietinum

The Garbanzo Bean Story

“Garbanzo” is the Spanish word for “chickpea.” The word “chickpea” is derived from the Italian word ceci (pronounced “chee chee”), and in Arabic, garbanzos are called “hummus.”

Garbanzos have been grown in the Mediterranean, Middle East, India, and some parts of Africa for more than 7,000 years. The ancient Greeks ate them as snacks. Today they are popular in the cuisines of southwestern Asia, northern India, Spain, Italy, and Latin America.

In Spain, the national dish, called cocido, is a stew that consists of chickpeas and pork. Cocido is believed to have originated from adafina, a 15th-century meal prepared by Sephardic Jews of Iberia. Adafina consisted of garbanzos, lamb, hard-boiled egg, string beans, and other kosher ingredients, which were cooked overnight in covered clay pots. In the late 15th century, Christians began adding pork to the recipe; the more pork that was added, the wealthier a family appeared.

In northern India, garbanzo bean flour is an ingredient in snack foods; in Italy, it is used to prepare farinata (also called socca or cecina), an unleavened pancake; and in Provence, it is used to make a patty called panisse. Garbanzos also appear in the popular Middle Eastern foods falafel and hummus, as well in as the Philippine sweet confection halo-halo, made with milk and shaved ice. In the United States, garbanzos are popular in soups, vegetarian dishes, and salads.

Our favorite Garbanzo Bean links:
Halo-Halo, a Favorite Summer Treat in the Philippines
How to Cook Beans and Peas
How to Soak Your Beans
Garbanzo Bean Recipes
Camellia Brand Garbanzo Beans