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What do you call 'em? Garbanzos? Cecci? Chickpeas?

…and wouldn't it be wonderful if the name got standardized?

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  1. no

    But feel free to make the case for one of those names.

    Ceci - Italian
    Chickpea - a well established English name, derived from French (and Latin, note the similiarity to cecci)
    Garbanzo - from Spanish

    But why limit the choices to those languages? How about Hindi derived names? Basque, Portuguese?

    6 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Cause I LOVE them and when I want to find a new recipe I have to make 3 different searches and put in 3 different keywords when coding them.

      I also wonder if there are people who don't know all the names and miss things or talk past one another.

      But you could be wrong that this is a non-issue. ;>

      PS I don't know any Hindi derived names but am a fan of chana masala. Do you think chana translates to garbanzo/cecci/chickpea too?

      1. re: rainey

        PS I don't know any Hindi derived names but am a fan of chana masala. Do you think chana translates to garbanzo/cecci/chickpea too?



        1. re: thegforceny

          I had Chana dal for dinner. Delicious.

          1. re: magiesmom

            Yes, they're wonderful by any name and now I've got 2 more names/searches to do. =o

          2. re: rainey

            Isn't this true for a lot of ingredients? These days search engines are quite savvy and even if you don't put in the exact word "garbanzo" often a search for "chickpeas" will include links to site with synonyms.

          1. re: NanaMoussecurry

            Sounds as though that would translate as chick peas. But then it also has a similarity to cecci.

            1. re: rainey

              but cecci and garbanzo translate as chick peas, too...

              Cecci is Italian, Garbanzo is Spanish, and Pois Chiches is French.

              They all translate to the same English term.

              1. re: sunshine842

                Right. But "pois chiches" sounds like a literal translation (if I can make that assumption without pulling out my Larouse). I don't hear anything that strikes my very very limited and poor Spanish as "pea" or "chick" in garbanzo.

                But I take your point that this versatile bean has many names. And this morning I learned the Japanese name to go with the Hindi (?) name I learned yesterday.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Cecci, Chiches, Chick all come from the same Latin root (cicer, Cicero's surname). 'pois' would be 'peas'. The origin of the common Spanish word, garbanzo, is unclear. Some try to trace it to Greek, others to Basque.

                  1. re: paulj

                    ceci in Italian, not cecci! Cicero IS the surname, i.e., cognomen, of Marcus Tullius Cicero. Supposedly an ancestor had a chickpea-shaped wart on his nose.

            2. All the above. When I put them in a salad I call them Garbanzos.If used in a soup they would be Cecci.When making hummus they are Chickpeas.I don't know if it is correct.Thats what I call them when I use them

              2 Replies
              1. re: emglow101

                I also vary my use of the terms - salad = Garbanzos, hummus = Chickpeas. I have no idea why.

                1. re: emglow101

                  A while back someone was complaining that people were making hummus from things other than chickpeas. Turns out that 'hummus' (or something like that) is the Arabic word for chickpeas, and that full name for the spread is something that means 'chickpeas with tahini'.


                2. It depends on what recipe I'm making -- if I'm making something Cuban or Spanish, they're garbanzos -- if it's an American recipe, they're chickpeas -- and you're going to hate me for adding another term, but if it's a North African or French recipe, they're pois chiches.

                  I reach for the same bag or can, but in my mind, they're whatever nationality I'm cooking.

                  1. All of the above, depending on whom I am speaking with.

                    1. Know them by all names, but most commonly call them chickpeas, since most people wouldn't know what I was talking about ;)

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              I've had them in many preparations, and they're just not my thing. On their own, they taste like nothing to me.

                              Hummus is a different animal. And I can tolerate them in chana masala, but then the flavor comes from the simmering sauce, not the chalkballs.

                              The worst is on salad buffets. But hey, nobody's holding a gun to my head and forcing me to eat them, so it's all good '-)

                              1. re: linguafood

                                I wasn't suggesting you should like them. But the canned ones, like on salad buffets are not good.
                                Do you like felafel?

                                1. re: magiesmom

                                  *Really* depends on the falafel. I have a couple of places in Berlin that I really love for their falafel. Maybe my problem is having them whole?

                                  Of course -- again, with the right spices & deep-fried, how could they not taste good?

                                  But if we're talking about a chickpea "raw" or however they come (e.g. in a can).... they're pretttttty uninteresting.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    Well, the can may be the problem, not the food.

                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                      I saw somewhere recently (ATK, CI?) that when the metallic flavor of the can is an issue briefly heating the food can remove the objectionable flavor. You can rinse beans with hot water and, in the case of what I was watching, you can heat canned pumpkin in a saucepan before using it.

                                      (Yup, it was one of the Chris Kimball shows and they were making pumpkin bread)

                                2. re: magiesmom

                                  "Wow, I find them very flavorful."

                                  Me too. Of course I cook my own from dried and use a seasoned soak and more herbs in the cooking water. But even canned garbanzos float my boat in a pinch. When I cook my own I cook them less tho so they have a little more tooth.

                                  Besides the pleasant flavor I think they have a lovely creamy texture.

                                  1. re: rainey

                                    Same here, I cook them from dry with bay leaves and garlic, they're hard to not nibble on while storing them. Then again I've been known to eat canned ones by the spoonful.

                                3. re: linguafood

                                  Ha! Sounds like something I'd think, but I was raised on marinated garbanzos and found a love for them early on. The canned ones are gross, though, mealy and not much flavor. My mom always cooked the dried ones.

                                4. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone spoke engrish?

                                  Then we'd all have to call them chikupeasu.

                                  1. chic peas. my family mocks the common spelling mistake (or at least, common in the grocery stores we frequent) and call 'em chic peas. they read vogue, shop at topshop and barney's, and are always super styling.

                                    1. Varies between chickpeas and garbanzo beans.

                                      1. I call them "ciceri" in Italian dialect (when I'm in the house).
                                        Other than that, I usually refer to them as "chickpeas".

                                          1. I call them chickpeas - like everyone in my country - including the people who decide what to put on the labels of the tins in the supermarket. We are an English speaking nation and generally use common English names for foods.

                                            Of ocurse, if I go to the local Asian shops,then I'm likely to find the tins labelled channa.

                                            1. Funny story: my great-uncle Anthony wanted some ceci with noodles. He doesn't really cook so he was going to the store to by the beans so his mother or sister would make them. My family pronounces it chichis and he didn't know any other name even though often ceci is on the can. So he came over empty handed.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: melpy

                                                One time my DH came home with several cans of chickpeas. They were labeled "chickpeas" on one side and "garbanzo beans" on the other. He told me, in all sincerity, that he bought both kinds because he wanted to figure out the difference between garbanzo and chickpeas! When I pointed out that EACH CAN was labelled with both names, he slunk away in embarassment

                                                1. re: melpy

                                                  LOL These 2 stories were my original point.

                                                  1. I call them chickpeas but my grandparents, parents, and other relatives called them ceci.

                                                    1. I usually call them Garbanzo Beans, but am familiar with most all of the names used for them, including "hiyoko mame" (chick beans) in Japanese.

                                                      1. Grew up calling them garbanzos. Now I use that (80% of the time) and chickpea the rest of the time as it seems to be more commonly used.

                                                        1. When my son was little, due to the variety of names, he used to call them chick beans.

                                                          1. Usually chickpeas, but growing up, we called them "arbis" -- I think that's the Yiddish word for them.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                                              Another vote for arbis - my late DH grew up in Brooklyn and would chant all three names (i.e., chickpeas, garbanzos, etc.) when they came up in conversation. He may have been the only man in St. Louis that called them that.

                                                              1. re: lemons

                                                                Arbis....(only used with family or close friends who understand Yiddish)
                                                                served in a small dish to accompany a shot of whiskey--finger food

                                                                If I send the kids to the store I tell them to buy chick peas or garbanzo beans.

                                                                If I'm shopping in an Italian import store or cheese shop, I'll ask for Cecci.

                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                  Arbis were a snack, served in a bowl or small dishes, and yes, finger food.

                                                              2. re: CindyJ

                                                                Arbus in Yiddish. Nahit in Hebrew.

                                                              3. I prefer the different names

                                                                Helps me to know what culture/ethnicity/country the recipe/dish is from

                                                                1. As many other have said "all of the above". It depends on the recipe or how I am using them.

                                                                  Life would be way too boring if all the names of food were standardized!

                                                                  29 Replies
                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                    You're right and it is surely a very minor irritation to stumble over. My intent was actually more lighthearted that pique or distress.

                                                                    But can you think of another ingredient we use so many names for? I mean I realize we're a polyglot culture so we assimilate wildly and, I hope, appreciate things' origins. Still, we manage to say "chicken" when we mean chicken for a French or an Italian or an Asian or Caribbean recipe and "onion" when we mean anyone's take on onion. I'm curious why these bean's various names are so resilient in our language.

                                                                    I seriously use the three names that I began with all the time. I just have to hesitate to make a decision each time I type it or speak it out loud. And I have to use all three keywords when looking for a recipe because I don't know which mood I was in when I selected one to store a recipe. I don't seem, personally, to have one dominant one.

                                                                    1. re: rainey

                                                                      I would say the coriander/cilantro thing annoys me as well...
                                                                      Rocket/roquette/arugula too

                                                                      1. re: NanaMoussecurry

                                                                        But coriander says a seed or the ground powder of a seed while cilantro says fresh green herb. I think that's a specific and helpful distinction.

                                                                        I hadn't thought of rocket/roquette/arugula but then I only use arugula, It's handy to know that rocket means arugula when the time comes though!

                                                                        There's scallions, green onions and spring onions too. Those distinctions escape me. I just use a bunch of whatever interchangeably.

                                                                        I've learned some of the British terms so I know what to grab when I read caster sugar or icing sugar. I know what they have in mind when they write aubergine or marrow. But that's more or less the same as actually converting measurements and temperatures. We get into their milieu and do it their way. I find that less confusing.

                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                          That coriander/cilantro distinction is one that developed over the last half century or so. When I started cooking recipes called the herb Chinese parsley.

                                                                          Coriander is an old English name, and applies just as well to the plant, the seed, and its leaves. Cilantro is the Spanish name, which we have borrowed from Mexican cooking. In Spanish 'cilantro' also applies to the plant and seeds (semillas).

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              My cookbooks from the 80s use coriander in place of cilantro. Pretty recent distinyikn

                                                                            2. re: rainey

                                                                              I recently bought a packet of dried coriander leaves, so labeled. I think it was from UK. So it's not that simple.

                                                                              I have been driven to distraction by the onion question and have been told that the problem is not just that there are different plants in question but that there are regional US differences in the terminology, so you simply never know what you are dealing with. The Italian cipollotto or cipollina verde (same thing), which has a bulb, is not a true scallion, which looks like a tiny leek (straight up and down). I think spring onion is UK for green onion.

                                                                              The arugula family of terms, and plants, is, I think, in flux, and the terms are used loosely and not strictly correctly. The terminology in my Roman market has changed over the years too.

                                                                              1. re: rainey

                                                                                I don't think that's quite true with the coriander/cilantro. That's the American distinction, but it recipes from the UK (or other countries where the writer learned UK English) the fresh herb is called coriander.

                                                                                1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                  That's consistent with Americans using 'cilantro' because it is mostly seen as a Mexican ingredient.

                                                                                  According to the Wiki article, coriander was used as an herb in Europe in the middle ages, but it generally fell out of use. The major exception being Portugal and parts of Spain (Canaries). But the Spanish took it to the Americas, where it is widely used (possibly because they already had culantro, an unrelated, but similar tasting herb).

                                                                                  1. re: paulj


                                                                                    I think I've just about always had coriander in my spice cabinet since I started cooking in the 60s. I began to use the green version in possibly the 90s when it became au courant at roughly the same time I started cooking more world cuisine and finding it in recipes from the Indian subcontinent as well as the southwest.

                                                                                    At that time I found I was one of the people who experience it as "soapy" but, fortunately, I learned if I remove all the stems and use only leaves I can enjoy it very much. So, in my own kitchen coriander and cilantro seem different on many levels and I'm comfortable with separate names however inaccurate I've now learned that is.

                                                                                    Anyway, thanks for useful and interesting information! I am certainly in favor of being better informed and understanding what's true and what's my own eccentricity. ;>

                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                      Culantro is similar tasting, but certainly at a different level.

                                                                                      I describe culantro as cilantro on steroids.

                                                                                      This one has other names as well...culantro, bandhaniya, shado beni, mexican cilantro, and several others.

                                                                                      We use alot of it in our house.

                                                                                      1. re: JayL

                                                                                        The Vietnamese name is the one I see in the markets (no gai?)

                                                                              2. re: rainey

                                                                                Our English Language is a polygot of earlier speech.

                                                                                That chicken is Anglo-Saxon, while poultry (poulet in French) is from the Norman French invaders (1066). There are many words in common English usage that have both Saxon and Norman names

                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                  Thanks! I made this post on a whim but I'm learning so much from it.

                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                    You'll often find that the word for an animal has Anglo Saxon derivation, whilst the meat from that animal has French derivation. Pig/pork, cow/beef, etc

                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                      Like we all -- in most languages -- use one word for a live animal and a different one when it's on the menu.

                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                        That changes a bit on this side of the Atlantic...........

                                                                                        Cattle Ranchers in the American southwest raise 'beeves' and the meat is beef. Refer to a cow and that's generally a dairy animal.


                                                                                        Calf/Veal (French influence)
                                                                                        Deer/Venison (French influence)
                                                                                        Sheep/Mutton...you couldn't give it away to the majority of Americans, mainly found in immigrant markets

                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                          not any more -- lamb is available at all the chain groceries here, as well as at Sam's and Costco.

                                                                                          No mutton, which is fine by me, but lamb is a regularly stocked item most places nowadays --and I hear more and more people talking about it.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            I don't know where you got the impression that I said lamb is NOT available. I said lamb meat is called lamb in the US and that Sheep meat is called Mutton, which is not in much demand.

                                                                                            In 60 years of life, lamb has always been available in our area supermarkets and butchers.

                                                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                              your choice of pronoun was quite unclear -- I think we all can agree that mutton and sheep are two distinctly different products.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                No we can't agree that mutton and sheep are two distincly different products..................

                                                                                                Going back to Harter's post:
                                                                                                Sheep is the animal (not a product), Mutton is the name of the meat (product) that comes from the sheep.

                                                                                                I pointed out that if the animal is a lamb, we also call the meat lamb. Same with chicken, turkey, but not a deer or calf.

                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                  other than the fact that they are from the same species of animal, one young, one mature...

                                                                                                  ...they do not have the same consistency, they most definitely do not have the same flavour, and they are not prepared with identical methods.

                                                                                                  Veal and beef are equally different products, for exactly the same reasons.

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    My point is that an animal is NOT a product. The meat from the slaughtered anaimal ia a product.

                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                      If people buy an animal (which they do),it is absolutely a product. The fact that animal is then broken down into its component products doesn't change the verbage. (if anything, renders it then a raw material.)

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        I don't agree with you, but it is semantics.

                                                                                                        If you buy live animals, you may be buying commodities. Once the animal is slaughtered and broken down the parts that are offered for sale are products. In effect they have been produced through mankind's labor.

                                                                                                        We'll just have to agree to disagree, I'll end it here.

                                                                                    2. re: rainey

                                                                                      When I was a kid, a hot dog was a roll containing a frankfurter, but nowadays it's both that and the plain frankfurter. We've built a confusion without resorting to a second language.

                                                                                      Potstickers/Peking Ravioli/Guo Tie - AFAIK these are the same thing.

                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                        We used Frank or frankfurter to refer to the sausage cooked and served on a plate, such as franks and beans. If the sausage was served in a roll, then it was usually called a hot dog.
                                                                                        My older brother (67) and SIL (70) were raised in the Bronx, bith call the sausage served in a bun a Frankfurter.

                                                                                        BUT: it's really confusing Nathan's Famous in Coney Isald has giant signs for Frankfurters but sponsors a Hot Dog eating contest. The word is interchangable and has been for more than a century.

                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                          >> We used Frank or frankfurter to refer to the sausage cooked and served on a plate, such as franks and beans. If the sausage was served in a roll, then it was usually called a hot dog. <<

                                                                                          Ditto to the "franks and beans." But in my childhood neighborhood in Brooklyn, we got "frankfurters (or franks) with mustard and sauerkraut" on a bun right off the griddle at the deli. Sometimes we even splurged on "two franks with mustard and sauerkraut on club bread." I don't remember calling them hot dogs waaaaaay back then.

                                                                                        2. re: greygarious

                                                                                          According to the Wiki article, sausages were being called 'dogs' as far back as the mid 1800s.

                                                                                          As kid I would have used wiener. Frankfurter sounds too highfalutin. But both derive from city names.

                                                                                          The industry's history:

                                                                                          Words are defined more by their usage than by rules. And usage has a way of shifting over time and place.

                                                                                    3. Wiki lists the scientific name as Cicer arietinum.
                                                                                      Would using that names help with cooking? Especially as cooking is a global pastime?
                                                                                      Interesting thought.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                        Hopefully it won't happen as I'm annoyed by the 'capsicum' instead of 'pepper' talk in UK cookbooks lol

                                                                                        1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                          I am all for using scientific taxonomy when possible for exactly that reason.

                                                                                        2. Growing up in California, mostly garbanzos. I guess with a German mom, I could also say "Kiechererbsen" (giggle peas, literally). However, chickpeas seems the most correct as it is English, and we might as well stick to a word per noun for clarity's sake. Otherwise, we should call apples "jablka" in Polish recipes, or "manzanas" if eaten in Spain.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                            I'm told that in some diner-type restaurants they're called "whistleberries". But that may be all beans. 8^)

                                                                                          2. No, I like the multicultural names attributed to it. I grew up in the American Southwest, and call them garbanzos. I'd heard chickpeas, but Mario Batalion one of his shows was the one I heard call them cecci beans, and bon appetit.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                              The multicultural names might be cute and nice, but at the end of the day it just leads to confusion. People can do what they want, but it doesn't seem very "sensible" to change the names of ingredients due to the (perceived) provenance of a dish. It just leads to false dichotomies--not what the world needs.

                                                                                              1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                y'know, they've tried a universal language before -- first issue was Babylon, and the second was Esperanto - a language that exists, but statistically no one speaks.

                                                                                                Until the day we all eat exactly the same foods prepared in exactly the same manner and speak exactly the same language, things will have different names -- and long may it ontinue.

                                                                                                The French aren't going to call them chickpeas, nor the Spanish, nor the Yiddish or Hebrews or Italians or anyone else mentioned in this thread -- particularly if it's to make an English-speaker happy.

                                                                                                Vive la difference!

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  Absolutely! And, as you say, vive la difference!

                                                                                                  I certainly don't think other cultures should adapt to my need! Truly, I was just talking about in my own life. …and maybe the American food community.

                                                                                                  Makes me think. I have no problem with musical terms being dominated by the Italian even in English. No problem with dance vocabulary being French. If I knew anything at all about science I suppose I'd get comfortable with German.

                                                                                                  No problem using *any* clear expression in common usage. It's the confusion of 3 different ones all in common usage inside my own brain.

                                                                                                  I'll get over it. ;>

                                                                                                  (PS But guess what else. It makes me crazy that dairies -- even in my limited area of Southern California -- don't standardize the colors of their cartons. I have nearly used buttermilk for half and half more times than I care to remember. =o )

                                                                                                2. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                  Homogenization of everything is not an answer. To anything, imo

                                                                                              2. I used to call them garbanzo beans, but over the last few years have transitioned into chickpeas. I'm sure it's related to a west-to-east move, but boy was it delayed.... I moved here in 1997!

                                                                                                1. Thank you all for a much more interesting discussion than I anticipated!

                                                                                                  1. So, how do you use them? Shall we have recipes?

                                                                                                    Here's one I like:

                                                                                                    Mediterranean Tuna Salad

                                                                                                    • 1 can tuna, Italian style with olive oil
                                                                                                    • 2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked, (or 1 15-oz. can drained and rinsed)
                                                                                                    • 1/4 cup oil-packed ripe olives, pitted and quartered
                                                                                                    • 3 or 4 leaves fresh basil, cut in chiffonade, or more to taste
                                                                                                    • 2 cup Roma tomatoes
                                                                                                    • 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
                                                                                                    • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
                                                                                                    • 1 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
                                                                                                    • 1/2 - 1 cup miniature penne, ditalini or other small pasta, uncooked
                                                                                                    • salt & pepper, to taste

                                                                                                    1. Place tuna with the oil in a large bowl, breaking up large pieces. Add the well-drained garbanzos, the olive pieces and the basil. Set aside.

                                                                                                    2. Meanwhile, dice tomato into about 1/4" pieces and place them in a sieve over a bowl to collect the juices.

                                                                                                    3. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil to coat bottom. Put uncooked pasta in the pan, stirring to coat with oil. Add onion and garlic, continuing to stir. Pour on the tomato juice that has collected, retaining tomatoes in the sieve and replacing it over the bowl to collect any additional juices. Add a good pinch of salt and several turns of freshly ground pepper to the pan. Stir while the liquid bubbles gently adjusting the heat up if necessary. Using Clotilde's risotto method, continue adding any additional tomato juices and boiling water to the pan and stirring until the pasta is cooked. Cooked pasta will have significantly increased in size, lost a good bit of its yellow color and have a pleasant soft texture.

                                                                                                    4. Pour pasta over tuna in the bowl and toss to combine. Place in fridge to cool and allow flavors to blend. Check cooled salad for seasonings and add salt & pepper or additional basil as necessary.

                                                                                                    5. Serve cold on lettuce leaves or in a hollowed tomato.