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Feature: Chickpeas and Aquafaba

 

By Cindy Yuong, AOS Baking & Pastry

February 12, 2016

     One of the rising stars of this year’s pulse trend is the chickpea. Also known as the garbanzo bean, this pulse is widely known for its high protein and fiber content. The chickpea has a variety of uses, but is mainly known for being in hummus. While hummus is actually the Arabic word for chickpeas, most people know hummus as the ground chickpea paste mixed with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice, usually eaten as a dip or spread. However, there are many more uses for chickpeas, such as a replacement for tofu in vegetarian meals or the main protein in general.

Chickpeas can be used in many forms. The beans are both packaged in cans with liquid or dried like other lentils. There are many savory uses for chickpeas, like hummus and falafel, but also in salads, pastas, and stews. Garbanzo beans are found in many Middle Eastern and Indian recipes. In addition, garbanzo beans can be eaten roasted and seasoned like nuts for a snack. Dry the beans, toss them in your favorite spices and stick them in the oven until dry and crispy. The dry bean can also be ground up and used in gluten free goods as a flour alternative. With 7 grams of protein to boast in a half cup serving, chickpeas are a great complementary protein to add to any snack or meal.

Following is a recipe for a filling Chickpea Tikka Masala. Chickpeas are the main feature of this classic Indian curry. The chickpeas hold up well in this recipe and capture the fragrance of Garam Masala that makes the curry irresistibly delectable. This easy to make recipe will last you a few days or provide for a nice shared family meal and can be doubled without much trouble. Be sure to enjoy it with some rice or bread to complete your protein consumption for the day.

 

 

Chickpea Tikka Masala

Recipe from foodiewithfamily.com

 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and diced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

1 tablespoon Garam Masala

2-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed, finely minced

2 cans chickpeas (or 3½ cups cooked chickpeas) drained and rinsed in a colander

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) petite diced tomatoes

1 cup of full-fat coconut milk

1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (2 quarts or larger) over medium heat. Add the diced onions and garlic and a pinch of salt and stir. Sautee the onions and garlic until partly translucent and slightly browned around the edges, about 4 minutes. Stir in the Garam Masala, the grated ginger, and the minced jalapeno and cook for another minute, or until very fragrant. Add in the chickpeas and diced tomatoes, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and return to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve like a soup, over hot rice, or noodles, garnished with additional cilantro, if desired.

Now that you know what to do with your chickpeas, get ready to prepare some. What do you do after opening a can of chickpeas? Drain the liquid? No. Do not do that. And you will not ever want to again after learning this. The cooking liquid from a can or pot of beans is called aquafaba, a term coined by Goose Wohlt with a Latin translation of bean juice. Pour it into a container and save it; that liquid works wonders. Aquafaba is found not only in cans of chickpeas, but any canned lentils, though it is the one that has been the most well-known recently. Aquafaba has even been named one of the top healthy food trends of 2016. So why all the hype on some typically disposed liquid from cooked beans?

It turns out that such a liquid is a natural replacement for eggs. An egg, with all its difficult characteristics to reproduce, now has a substitute. Without any added gums or starches, aquafaba at the right viscosity can substitute for eggs in a recipe. In general, 3 tablespoons of the liquid is equivalent to one egg. Granted, aquafaba is not a perfect replacement in every recipe, but it does what it is supposed to in most, and can with more recipe tests.

However, even more intriguing is that aquafaba can be a vegan substitute for egg whites. Through the individual efforts of Goose Wohlt and Joel Roessel experimenting and sharing the results, aquafaba whipped with sugar makes the perfect meringue. Whether it’s boiled down bean liquid or straight from the can, the aquafaba in any normal meringue ratio can be made into a fluffy white meringue. Throw the liquid into a mixer, whip it on high, add some sugar and you will end up with meringue in ten minutes. An advantage to aquafaba is that it is practically impossible to overwhip the meringue, unlike the finicky egg whites that are usually used. This incredible new discovery was made barely a year ago and much has come from it.

Wohlt posted his meringue findings on an online community and it quickly spread that vegan meringue was possible. The community tested the results and from there blossomed a new set of aquafaba recipes, including but not limited to marshmallows, French macarons, cakes, cheese, egg wash, mousse, and ice cream, all products available to anyone despite eating restrictions. Some meringue classics are still being tested out, such as Angel food cake, but with such a large community, testers are getting closer to a satisfactory result. Aquafaba has revolutionized vegan cooking and baking through its use as an egg substitute, opening up a whole world of possibilities. In order to learn more about aquafaba, keep updated on the aquafaba discoveries through the Facebook group Vegan Meringues – Hits and Misses! or the dedicated website Aquafaba.com.

Don’t believe it? Try it out for yourself. Save the liquid from a can of chickpeas and use it as you would with normal meringue. Drain the aquafaba from a 15 oz of chickpeas into a container. You should have about ½ to ¾ cup of aquafaba. Place that in a clean mixing bowl and whip it on high. Once you get soft peaks, slowly add in ¾ to 1 cup of granulated sugar. In about 10 minutes, you will have stiff peaked meringue. Stop the mixing earlier for softer peaks, or a nice marshmallow fluff. Pretty soon, you may find yourself wanting aquafaba more than the beans they come with. Luckily for you, aquafaba freezes well and can even be portioned into one egg servings so you can have some at hand any time you want.

 

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