My dad would pick up these delicious, crispy chickpea snacks when he had a few extra bucks left over from grocery shopping. They weren’t cheap, so it was a real treat when he would come home with some after shopping at his favorite international markets. There were only two different flavors available at the time, plain and sugar coated — not a granular sugar coating, but a sugar shell — the kind that you find on those fancy white (or colored) candied almonds that are used in wedding favors. Once we opened the bag, we would try to pace ourselves, but they never lasted very long. Since they weren’t something we ate often, they quickly disappeared because they were our preferred snack.
Over the years, I tried making them several times but never managed to get them right. I just couldn’t get them crispy enough on the day I prepared them. I would leave them overnight to try to further dry them out and they were even worse after turning into a semi soft, leathery ball that was hard to eat.
But, I pressed on. Each time I made them, I tweaked the recipe ever so slightly trying different things…then BINGO, it finally worked.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are one of those items that we still use a lot in our meals, so I pick up a 25lb bag of dry beans from the restaurant supply house and portion them out into gallon size ziploc bags for easy handling. We use them to make our ho’mous (hummus) and also use them in many of our soups, salads and even pasta.
The key to making a really crispy snack is to dry them out as much as possible — in these types of snacks, moisture is your enemy. Once they are as dry as you can get them, then you need to deep fry them for a few minutes — a saute is just not enough. I discovered that THIS was the big secret that I was missing. Frying them displaces any remaining moisture in the bean and makes them perfectly crunchy. When you make them, make a really large batch because they’re easy to eat but a little time consuming to make.
With the upcoming holidays, these would make such a great snack to have around the house. They’re better for you than potato chips, so if you need something tasty to snack on, try these on for size.
Sweet & Salty Crispy Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Snack (This quantity should be enough for 2 batches)
2 cups dried garbanzo beans
2 teaspoons baking soda
hot water to cover with 2″ over beans (keep adding hot water throughout the day as needed)
2 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, dried
1/4 teaspoon salt
Good pinch of pepper
good pinch ground coriander**optional
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried parsley
This process should take 2 days if you are starting with dried beans. On the morning of Day 1, place the 2 cups of dried chickpeas in a medium sized non metallic bowl and pour over some hot water until the beans are covered by 2″ of water. Add the baking soda and stir it in well. You will begin to hear the beans crack as they absorb the water and expand. After about 3 or 4 hours, check the water level. You will probably have to add some more hot water, so make sure to add enough to cover the beans again with 2 additional inches of water. At the end of the day before you go to bed, place the bowl in the sink and let the cold water run onto the beans. Use your hand to stir and agitate the beans to rinse them well. Pour them into a colander to remove all of the original water, then place them back into the same bowl and add cold water, covering the beans with 2″ of water again. Leave this bowl on your counter and let them sit in the water overnight.
On the morning of Day 2, rinse the beans again, drain them in the colander and put them into your pressure cooker. Add enough cold water to more than cover the beans (2″-3″ over the beans). Cover with the lid and bring the beans to a boil (15 minutes), then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cook the beans in the pressure cooker for 2 hours. After the designated cooking time, turn off the heat and leave the pressure cooker on the stove top for an additional hour until the pressure cooker has cooled completely.
Once everything is cool, open the pressure cooker and drain the chickpeas into a colander. Cover them with a paper towel so they don’t dry out and discolor and let them sit in the sink until they cool completely. The heat from the cooked bean will also help them drain and dry a little.
Before you do anything else, you need to prepare the spice mixture by combining everything together in a small bowl and then set it aside.
Take 2 1/2 cups of the cooked chickpeas and place them onto a paper lined sheet pan. Use a paper towel to dry them as much as you can before putting them in the oven. Preheat your oven to 200 F and place this tray of chickpeas into the oven. I cook them on the lowest heat possible because all I am trying to do is dry them out, I do not want them to take on any color at this point.
Bake them in the oven for about 2 hours, then turn off the oven and leave the tray in the oven until the chickpeas cool completely. After about an hour, the tray will be cool, so you can continue on to the frying process at this point, or pack the baked chickpeas in a lidded container and wait until the next day.
If you want to go ahead and fry them right away, place the entire amount of cooled chickpeas into a large cup, and set them aside. Add 1/2″ of vegetable oil in a skillet and place the skillet on a low to moderate heat. To achieve the right level of crispiness, they need to be fried in a good amount of oil — a saute in a little bit of oil will not get them crispy enough. Once the oil is ready, add the chickpeas carefully to the oil. If they have dried out completely, you will not get any oil spatter, but if there is still a little moisture left in them, the oil will definitely spatter…so be careful! Make sure to have a lid to cover the skillet if this happens. They will only spatter for a few seconds until the water evaporates out of them and is replaced with oil, then it will stop.
Once the spatter stops, and the chickpeas have taken on a little color, scoop them out of the oil and place them back onto the paper lined sheet pan you previously used. Add the spice topping while the chickpeas are still warm, and toss them with a spoon to make sure that they are all well coated. Spread them out onto the sheet pan after you have coated them with the spice mix, and allow them to cool completely. They should be very crisp. Once cool, place them in a sealed container and store at room temperature.