{recipe} Thai-Inspired Black Chickpeas

I can never resist an unexplored food product I come across (tiny rice, anyone?), so when I spotted these black chickpeas last week, they were in my grocery cart before you could say “garbanzo.”

I imagined they’d be like the usual flesh-toned chickpeas, except smaller and darker. Not so. After some experimentation, I learned that these little guys are nuttier and less prone to mushiness than other beans, and they hold their shape better during cooking. The effect is somewhere around 20% corn-nut and 80% cooked bean. Cooking them in aromatic coconut milk in the oven and finishing them on the stove with fresh herbs and lime is a reasonably no-fuss way to make the best of this hearty, nutty, unusual legume. The Thai-inspired flavors compliment them well.

I like this on its own or as a side dish with simple grilled chicken skewers or slow-cooked salmon. For an attractive one-dish presentation, you can lay the chickpeas on a platter and top with meat or fish. For a hearty vegetarian meal, you can make the recipe all the way through, let the beans come to room temperature, then add some diced tomatoes and cucumbers and mix it all together.

I bought a 14 oz. bag at Golden Natural Foods here in San Francisco, but you can buy the same brand online.

Thai-Style Black Chickpeas

serves 6 as a side dish


  • 14 oz dried black chickpeas
  • 1 13 or 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 tsp whole coriander
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 large or 2 small limes
  • sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste


  • Preheat oven to 325.
  • Rinse chickpeas well and drain. Place them in a heavy 4-5 qt. pot with a tight-fitting lid, like a dutch oven or Le Creuset. Add the coconut milk plus 2 cans of water.
  • Using a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or food processor, grind the cardamom pods, peppercorns, cumin, coriander, and salt together. Add to the pot.
  • Place in the oven and cook about 2 hours, until beans are soft enough to eat but still firm. There will still be some liquid in the pot.
  • Place the pot on top of the stove over medium high heat and continue cooking until all liquid has been absorbed, scraping down the sides frequently with a spatula.
  • When there is just a little bit of liquid left, remove from heat and stir in green onions, cilantro, lime juice and zest, and sriracha to taste. Add salt if needed.
  • If using as a side dish, remove to bowl and serve immediately. If making as a salad, let cool to room temperature and add 1-2 chopped tomatoes and 1 peeled, chopped cucumber and mix well before serving.

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7 Responses

  1. Dana says:

    What a cool find! I love love love chickpeas, much to the chagrin of the non legume lovers in my house. These look so cool, I’ll have to keep an eye out!

  2. mjskit says:

    I’ve never seen black chickpeas. They look very interesting. Your recipe sounds wonderful!

  3. Nicola says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was AMAZING! Thanks for this recipe. It will definitely make multiple appearances on our dinner table. 🙂

  4. Cheryl says:

    Do the black chickpeas need to be soaked overnight first?