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Help! I cannot make anything with chickpeas to save my life

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Last night was episode 5+ in my inability to make recipies with chickpeas. I made the spicy carrot and chickpea tangine in this thread:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650248

Also, have made channa masala, using Smitten Kitchen's recipe. I have been using canned chickpeas.

Long story short- its just not good. In fact, we threw out the tangine last night for being that bad - just totally flavorless and the chickpeas were hard and mealy.

What I am doing wrong? I follow the recipe, and usually cook it longer to try and soften the chickpeas. Once or twice I have made a successful channa masala but that it is.

Do I go to dried? I just bought some but haven't tried it yet. Based on this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/356029 it isn't looking good for me! :)

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  1. If the chickpeas are not soft as they come from the can, there is something wrong. I use dried and they can be cooked however you want.
    What brand are you using, they sound bad.

    2 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      I was wondering that, but I've used a few brands. Last night was the Safeway organic brand, I can't remember what I used last week when it also didn't go well. The only time I've had success recently was with the Trader Joe's brand.

      How soft should they be out of the can?

      1. re: DCLindsey

        They should meet no resistance when bitten. But again, dried beans are the way to go. make a big batch and freeze.

        I think peeling is a PITA and a waste of time, personally.

    2. Try peeling the canned chickpeas - it is a bit of a pain but changes the texture of the dish dramatically. Rinse them very well, then dump into a large bowl of cold water and start squeezing them until the skin pops off. It takes about 15 minutes to get through them all if it is worth it to you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tipsygypsy

        Get dried chickpeas from a store with high turnover. Organic would be better, for obvious reasons. I have had good success with the quick soak method, then cooking for an hour, salting the water a bit and cooking until desired texture is achieved. Then, make your recipes with the cooked chickpeas. You can shell them if you want, but I never do. The texture is always good.

        I have used many different canned products when I don't have time to make chickpeas from dried. They tend to be either mushy or oddly crunchy. Often, discolored chickpeas have not been removed during the sorting process (because machines and not humans are doing the sorting). These are generally the crunchy, nasty ones in the can, though I have encountered a few cans of mostly crunchy beans, which are pretty much garbage bound. Many cans are insanely salty, while others are flavorless. I have come to the conclusion that cooking ALL legumes from dried (or fresh, when available) is vastly superior to simply opening up a can. That is generally the case with anything, though.

        Are you cooking in non-stick pots and pans? That could be a reason you find your dishes flavorless. To maximize flavors when cooking, I find that using higher heat in regular cookware helps develop flavor from all aromatics, be it onions and garlic or saffron, cumin, coriander, etc. Cook with your eyes, nose and tongue, and not just with a written recipe. Don't be afraid to season until you're happy with the flavor.

      2. Thanks everyone for the tips. I think this week I will experiment with dried. Everything you have said makes sense and makes me feel a little better about what I have been doing!