16 December, 2015

How to Cook Chickpeas and also, in the process, How to Make Aquafaba at home (Using a Pressure Cooker)

At a glance.

Huh, Aquafaba? What's that, one might well ask. After all, it is a pretty recent discovery - just early last year.

Well, for anyone who doesn't eat eggs, this might be a big discovery.

It is that magical, vegan ingredient that can do the seemingly-impossible task of replacing egg-whites in recipes like meringues, mousse, macarons, mayonnaise and so many more.

Aquafaba (read it's history here), is nothing but the liquid from cooked chickpeas, or kabuli chana, which, luckily for me, is a fairly well known staple in my kitchen.

Christened thus, because it is just "water (from) beans" or "aqua faba" in Latin, by Goose Wohlt (check out his blog) who propelled it's discovery (after he serendipitously chanced upon a rather obscure video by a French chef and blogger Joël Roessel) along with an explosion of experiments in the vegan circles.

Boiled chickpeas, and the precious water in which it is boiled, aka Aquafaba.

It works in varying degrees with many varieties of beans, peas, lentils, legumes. 

Vive la good old 'dal-ka-paani' - yes, that too. I've tested some of those, as well. Will share as soon as something exciting gets concocted.

There is a science behind it, and there are limits to what it can do. Read the FAQ's on the official site's homepage (link above).

Interested? Do also check out the facebook group called Vegan Meringues - Hits and Misses which is a great place to discover (much, much) more and share your stories with other enthusiastic experimenters.

Just be warned, after visiting these sites, there will be a strong temptation to make too many dishes with sugar as the primary ingredient! 

But even if you are not interested in Aquafaba, you might like chickpeas. They can be used in a myriad delicious ways, too. And the cooking liquid can be used along with the dish in most cases (it can be added to the hummus and choley etc)

Where ever I've referred to Aquafaba here, it is a reference to the liquid as intended to be used as the "egg-white-replacer" in other dishes and experiments. Else, it is just chickpea water, or cooking liquid.

Try this hummus, for example.
Or this mayonnaise.
And so many more.

So without further delay, here goes - 

Required equipment: A pressure cooker.

  • (Although one could cook the chickpeas in a pot, except that it. will. take. forever. )

Ingredients:

Kabuli chana (Dried chickpeas): 1 cup (250 ml)
Water: 3 cups (750 ml)
Salt: To taste; Optional, but recommended. Avoid this if using the Aquafaba to make desserts.
(Taste the water after mixing in the salt, to gauge levels.)

Note

  1. The quantity of aquafaba will be slightly less than the actual cooking water used. For instance with the above measures, I might get approximately around half a litre (500 ml) of aquafaba. (That's approximated, because I made double that and used just a bit less water (half cup less) overall - because of having reached cooker's max fill limit.)
  2. To make a "stronger" aquafaba - as for meringues or pavlovas, use double the water instead of three times, that is 500ml (2 cups) to one cup of dried beans.
  3. This same method and water quantity can be used to cook rajma, or kidney beans, as well. The water from the kidney beans can be similarly used for aquafaba (and oh, that lovely maroon hue!).
Comparision of how chickpeas look when dried, soaked, and cooked. Note the change in size after soaking.


Method:

1.
Measure the required quantity of dried chickpeas.


2. Rinse and soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight, or six to eight hours. (This really means plenty - around five times as much water, because the chickpeas will swell to more than double their size. See picture near note, above.)

This is an important step that helps make the legumes more digestible, also making it more easy to cook. 
Kitchen Hack:
For an emergency requirement, just soak in boiling hot water for two hours, instead of overnight.
3. Drain, then rinse well, two or three times. Drain again.

4. Place into a pressure cooker, along with the three cups of water (plus salt, if using) and cook according to the stipulated time (see note below). Salt is recommended, unless making aquafaba.

5. After that time,turn off the flame, and allow the pressure to come down naturally as it cools.


6. Once the pressure has dropped to normal inside the cooker, it can be opened.  The cooked chana (chickpeas) are now ready to be used.


7. If using, strain and measure the liquid, which is the aquafaba. It will thicken and appear slightly gelatinous with time.  The strained chana/chickpeas can be used for any other dish (they are no longer needed in the aquafaba). They can also be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.

8. Store the aquafaba in the refrigerator for upto a week, or freeze, in ice-cube trays for added convenience.
-  The general substitute for eggwhites in aerated desserts is 3 Tablespoons roughly equal one egg white. So for organised experimenting, freeze in blocks of three tablespoons! :D



NOTE:

  • In my kitchen, I routinely use the Indian pressure cooker (of which I have a few sizes and types, mainly two brands, Hawkins and Prestige) which typically maintain a cooking pressure of about 15 pounds per square inch (1 kg per square cm).
    The cooking time mentioned here pertains to this type of pressure cooking.

    Some pressure cookers will vary in their methods of operation as well as cooking times, for eg. I've used a pressure cooker (AMC Secuquick) where the PSI is much higher and the chana is cooked in three minutes!

    (If you are new to pressure cooking, please read the instructions and follow them diligently.)
  • Once the full cooking pressure is reached (indicated by a whistle), lower the flame, and continue to cook on simmer for about another hour.  The chickpeas are usually cooked much before that, and if you don't need to use the aquafaba separately, then 30 or 40 minutes, post-whistle, after being on low flame are sufficient for pretty-soft-cooked chickpeas.

    But ever since I've been using aquafaba for experimenting, I like to give it that extra time to allow the AF to get "stronger", ie, let more of the proteins leach into the cooking liquid.
  • Kabuli chana, or chickpeas often froth while being pressure cooked, causing spluttering and spitting from the pressure vent. To avoid this, it is good to try to keep the level of the contents as low as possible, ie, to cook a quantity that, including the water, will not be more than a third of the volume within the pressure cooker (or use a much larger cooker size).

    Another way to pre-empt this, is to add a teaspoon of oil into the contents while cooking.  But don't add oil if you are planning to use the aquafaba, as it would change the nature of the liquid!

    If it still does froth too much, try pausing the cooking process for a while - say 10-20 minutes and then start again. That sometimes works for me.
  • Some times people add a pinch of cooking soda to hasten the softening process during cooking. But this is best avoided. I have never felt the need to do so, and why include a chemical that's not required?
    For one thing, it will destroy most of the thiamine present in the chickpeas, besides other nutrients like riboflavin.
    Then not the least, the process also imparts a rather unappetizing 'soapy' flavour to the whole thing.
    And it's certainly not advisable to take a chance with affecting the delicate balance of the pH of the AF which will be an important factor in the stability of the whipped foam.
  • If planning to use the cooking water (aquafaba), it's important to keep the heat gentle - just enough to maintain the optimum pressure, while avoiding too many 'whistles' at once, which would mean too much high pressure cooking for too long, to prevent the chickpeas from breaking down and thereby releasing too much particulate matter into the liquid (AF). A little splitting of the chickpeas from being so soft-cooked is fine, as long as they are more or less intact.
Happy experimenting!

Easy, isn't it?




(Updated, more pictures added.)

2 comments:

  1. Great! Thanks for sharing....am about to embark on my first aquafaba journey and your post certainly is helpful...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kavita. All the best with the AF experimentation! I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Do tell how it turns out. :) - ila.

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