Often when people think of Middle Eastern cuisine and the chickpea, they instantly think, hummus. However, chickpeas play a more significant role than just in the beloved hummus. In fact there is a “hole in the wall” restaurant in Syria that dedicates the majority of its business to chickpeas. When boiling chickpeas, it is best to soak them in double their amount of water first for at least a few hours to protect the outer layer during the boiling process.
Soak Chickpeas overnight in double the amount of water and a teaspoon of bi-carb soda to create a fantastic falafel. Drain the next day and combine with fresh coriander and parsley leaves, chopped garlic and onion, cumin, sweet paprika, salt and pepper in a processor until the consistency is of very coarse breadcrumbs. Shape into patties using two spoons and deep fry until brown and crisp.
Boil chickpeas until soft enough to crush between two fingers. Remove as many of the skins as possible. Combine in a food processor with a dollop of labne, a sprinkle of sumac and seasoning. Serve as an accompaniment to a slow roasted lamb shoulder (or any dish for that matter).
Split chickpeas using a tea towel and a rolling pin and add to your favourite stuffing recipe for zucchinis, capsicums or even whole roasted chicken.
Toss boiled chickpeas into any leafy green salad to add a rich source of protein. Chickpea salads work particularly well with a citrusy dressing.
Sharon Salloum is the author of Almond Bar: 100 Delicious Syrian Recipes. Photography by Rob Palmer. Published by Jacqui Small, £25.