You won’t find cans of black garbanzo beans in your grocery store like you will the lighter, tan-colored ones you’ve probably enjoyed a time or two. But you’re going to want to know about black garbanzo beans.
More specifically, you’re going to want to know all about their taste!
Keep reading to learn about the black version of garbanzo beans, how to enjoy them, and how you can grow your own at home.
First We Settle the Garbanzo-Chickpea Question
Yes, garbanzo beans and chickpeas are the same legumes (Cicer arietinum). Our blog post on Garbanzo Beans goes into detail about this.
History of the Black Garbanzo Bean
Garbanzo beans are a founder crop, which means they’re one of the eight crops that date back to the Neolithic age (9500 B.C.). Black garbanzo beans come from India, northern Africa, Afghanistan, and Italy.
Southern Italy is home to the Ceci neri, a rare black chickpea that’s now being grown in California in this country.
Black garbanzo beans go by other names, such as:
- desi chickpeas
- desi chana
- kala chana
- Bengal gram
- kala chana
- safaid beans
Garbanzo Bean Plant / Bean Characteristics
Black garbanzo bean plants grow around 2 feet high. Like other garbanzo beans, the plants have small feathery leaves that grow in pairs on the stem.
Pods are about 1 inch long and wide, oblong-shaped, with 2-3 seeds inside.
The leaves and pods of garbanzo beans secrete an acid that can cause skin irritation, but the leaves are edible in moderation.
The plant’s flowers are white with pink, blue, or purple veins, depending on the variety.
Black garbanzo beans can be the same size as lighter-colored Kabuli garbanzo beans (the ta ones you see in most grocery stores) or smaller, pea-sized. Only the skins of black garbanzo beans are black – the inside is the same tan color as all garbanzo beans.
Black chickpeas are denser and firmer than Kabuli chickpeas. The skins are thicker, yet they’re not chewy or tough. People describe them as having a unique “interesting” texture.
They’re also more flavorful than tan garbanzo beans (more on that later).
Health Benefits of Garbanzo Beans
All garbanzo beans are high in carbohydrates and protein and contain vitamin B, folate, phosphorus, and linoleic and oleic acids. But black garbanzo beans have three times the fiber and contain more iron than regular chickpeas.
Like other garbanzo beans, black ones are popular in vegetarian, and vegan diets. The texture, fiber, and protein amounts make black garbanzo beans an ideal meat substitute in recipes.
The high fiber in garbanzo beans leaves you feeling full longer, making them a great part of a weight-loss diet.
They’re a good source of plant-based protein, especially when combined with grains like quinoa to supplement the amino acid missing from garbanzo beans.
The fiber and proteins prevent sugar spikes and regulate insulin levels in diabetics.
The soluble fiber promotes overall gastrointestinal health and reduces the risk of diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and colorectal cancer.
The iron levels in chickpeas are effective against iron deficiency.
The choline, magnesium, zinc, and selenium have positive effects on brain health and depression.
Things to be Aware of
Before you start adding garbanzo beans to your meals to take advantage of their health benefits, there’s a potential downside to be aware of. Some people suffer from legume allergy, which also occurs when they eat peas or lentils. If that’s you, then you’ll need to skip garbanzo beans entirely.
Even if you’re not allergic to legumes, suddenly eating lots of garbanzo beans can have unpleasant results. You might experience initial gas, cramps, and bloating if you’re not accustomed to high-fiber foods.
The smart way to go about it is to start with small quantities and drink lots of water when introducing garbanzo beans (or any legumes) to your diet. This allows your body to gradually adjust to the fiber content.
Garbanzo beans are popular in Indian, Middle Eastern, African, and Mediterranean cuisine.
They’re used in hot and cold dishes, appetizers, sides, and main dishes, and are even used in sweet recipes.
Black garbanzo beans can be used in any recipe that calls for Kabuli or Desi chickpeas. The flavor is more pronounced than Kabuli chickpeas.
What Do Black Chickpeas Taste Like?
Black chickpeas are nutty, smoky, and slightly sweet-flavored. They’re praised for the taste and texture they add to recipes.
Garbanzo beans can be eaten raw as a snack if the pods are harvested when they’re still green.
Cooked black chickpeas can be cooled for adding to salads or making into hummus.
Black garbanzos hold their texture better than Kabulis, which can fall apart after long periods of cooking. You can eat them by themselves or use them as an ingredient for other dishes like soups, stews, or seasoned rice.
When blended in the food processor, black garbanzo beans can be used for veggie burgers or meatless “meatballs.”
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Garbanzo beans can be cooked for canning or freezing. Or they can be stored in dried form for up to a year.
Our blog post on garbanzo beans has a recipe for Cooked Garbanzo Beans to use for making these other mouthwatering dishes:
Where to Buy Black Garbanzo Beans
Unlike their lighter-colored counterparts, black garbanzo beans are harder to find. You’ll have better luck at ethnic grocery stores that carry Asian foods or you can order them online.
They’re also more commonly sold in dried form rather than canned or jarred.
Can You Grow Black Garbanzo Beans at Home?
Yes, and you may want to since they’re one of the most sustainable crops. When used in crop rotation, chickpea plants improve the quality of a garden’s soil because they leave behind beneficial nitrogen.
Be aware that garbanzo beans don’t do well in containers because of the number of plants and space needed to grow a household crop. The rule of thumb is 4-8 plants per person in the household.
Popular varieties to grow
- ‘Kabuli Black’
- ‘Black Kabouli’
- ‘Black Sicilian’
Growing Black Chickpeas
Chickpeas need a long growing season with 95-115 days to maturity.
Garbanzo beans grow best when daytime temperatures are between 70-80 degrees and nighttime lows are 65 and above.
When to Sow/Plant
Do not soak chickpeas before planting them!
Around the date of the last spring frost, direct-sow garbanzo beans in the garden.
If you’re in a colder zone, sow seeds indoors several weeks before the last spring frost in biodegradable pots. Garbanzo bean seedlings don’t like being removed from pots for planting. You need to plant the entire pot into the ground when seedlings are 4-5 inches tall.
Plant garbanzo beans in full sun for best yields.
Plant garbanzo beans in loose, well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter and amended with potassium and phosphorus.
Make sure the soil isn’t high in nitrogen. Otherwise, the plants will be leafy but bean yields will be low.
Plant seeds 1-2 inches deep and 3-6 inches apart. Once the seeds sprout, thin/space plants 6 inches apart with the rows 18-24 inches apart.
Don’t worry if your plants are a little crowded because they’ll support each other as they grow.
After planting seeds, avoid heavy watering – this causes the seeds to crack. Keep the planting beds evenly moist until seedlings have emerged.
Water plants regularly during the blooming season and while pods are forming. Don’t water overhead or the flowers or pods will fall off.
Good companion plants for garbanzos are:
- Summer savory
Plants to avoid:
Don’t plant with garlic or any member of the allium family. These plants release chemicals that stunt the growth of nearby legumes.
Garbanzo Bean Care
Keep the planting beds free of weeds, but take care not to disturb garbanzo beans’ shallow root systems. A hula hoe is a great tool to use for more delicate weeding needs.
Diseases & Care
Garbanzo beans are especially susceptible to anthracnose, blight, and mosaic diseases.
To avoid losing your garbanzo bean crop, don’t handle plants when wet in order to prevent the spread of fungal disease.
Remove any diseased plants, put them in paper bags, and dispose of them away from your garden.
Use crop rotation practices to reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases. Garbanzos and other pulse crops need 4-5 years before being planted in the same location again. It’s also a good idea to plant cereal grains before and after growing chickpeas.
You’ll need to be on guard for the usual garden pests like aphids, mites, leafhoppers, flea beetles, and bean beetles when you grow garbanzo beans.
Pests not only cause their own damage but they’re also a means for spreading disease among your garbanzo bean plants.
Insecticidal soap is an effective pest treatment, along with removing any large infestations that you find.
When to Harvest Black Garbanzo Beans
Black garbanzo beans dry in their pods on the plant. Wait until the entire plant is brown and withered to harvest the pods.
Unshelled garbanzo bean pods keep in the fridge for up to a week. Dried and shelled black garbanzo beans keep for a year in cool, dry storage.
Where To Buy Garbanzo Bean Plants/Seeds
Have we sold you on growing your own black garbanzo beans at home? You’re in luck because they’re sold by one of our favorite online seed retailers! Order your seeds in time for planting in early spring and enjoy homegrown chickpeas in the fall.
Bring an Exotic Taste to Your Table
They might be harder to find than their tan-colored counterparts, but black garbanzo beans are worth the effort to bring into your kitchen. Once you’ve tried them in the savory recipes we’ve provided, you’re sure to enjoy them year-round.
To learn about other members of the legume family, visit our beans page for lots more blog posts (and ideas for how to make delicious meals with legumes).