Updated: May 27
Chickpea. Garbanzo beans. Ceci. Chana. Gram. Top top mama. Nohut.
Whatever country you’re from whatever you call it, this beautiful bean is one of my personal comfort foods. As a very small child I am told my teeth would not come in and Poppa, my Spanish great grandfather, used a dry chickpea to rub my gums hoping for a natural way to help them come in. These beans featured in his kitchen, coming from Andalusia, he used them with pasta and they were one of the primary ingredients of my favorite dish, pastavazul, as we called it for years. Years later in Italy, I learned that this is actually a common dish called “pasta fagioli”. Roughly meaning “pasta with beans”, if you’re from southern Italy the bean will likely be the chickpea. Living in Turkey I discovered that the nohut is a standard dish given to children. Full of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, with tomato sauce it is an ideal meal. Any Turkish child in the 1990s and 2000s would know exactly what top top mama was going to be – chickpeas.
Visiting my favorite seaside area Moneglia in Liguria, one of the first things I eat, farinata – basically a kind of chickpea bread.
According to Wikipedia - One origin-story says farinata was invented by a group of Roman soldiers who roasted chickpea-flour on a shield. In standard Italian, the dish is called farinata ("made of flour") while in Ligurian, specifically in the Genoese dialect, it goes by the name of fainâ [fajˈnaː]. In Tuscany, cecina ("made of chickpeas") or torta di ceci ("chickpea pie") and in Sardinia fainè.
For years I have limited my enjoyment to this treat, saving it for when I was actually in Moneglia. Just after we came home from India, Angela mentioned that she was making ceci pancakes to expand her bread options. Then came our recent ‘period of isolation’, and I decided to bring this treat to my everyday life.
As a Nutritional Therapist, I strongly suggest this recipe for anyone and especially for vegans. Ceci are a type of legume full of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.
My homage to the ceci. Top on a silver tray with ethnic candles the ceci in three forms; bottom left plump soaked ceci; bottom right the raw beans themselves.