A round, irregular-shape, buff-colored legume that's slightly larger than the average pea. Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans and, in Italy, ceci) have a firm texture and mild, nutlike flavor. They're used extensively in the Mediterranean, India and the Middle East for dishes such as hummus. They've also found their way into Spanish stews, Italian minestrone and various Mexican dishes, and are popular in many parts of the Western and Southwestern United States. Chickpeas are available canned, dried and in some areas, fresh. They're most commonly used in salads, soups and stews. See also beans.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.