Almost everywhere on the internet I see that garbanzo beans and chickpeas are the same thing. Here on Seasoned Advice I also see that the tag comes up when you type "garbanzo". So I guess they're considered the same here?

Today I came across this blog post which claims that garbanzo beans are large Mexican chickpeas, not regular chickpeas. So, is this claim correct and are garbanzo beans and chickpeas different in any way?

  • 3
    This serious question is also the lead-in to a very vulgar joke (which is naturally popular in kitchens because of its vulgarity). – Josh Caswell Oct 8 '14 at 7:14
up vote 13 down vote accepted

They're the same thing. About the only difference is that "garbanzo bean" is less common in British English than in American English, and chickpea is more common either way, but it's just a language thing.

There are indeed different varieties, with some smaller and some larger, but they don't have common language names like that.

Wikipedia mentions three varieties:

Desi, which has small, darker seeds and a rough coat, cultivated mostly in the India and much of the Indian Subcontinent, as well as Ethiopia, Mexico, and Iran.

Bombay (Bambai), which is also dark in colour but slightly larger in size than the Desi variety. They too are popular in the Indian Subcontinent.

Kabuli, associated with Kabul in Afghanistan. These are lighter coloured, with larger seeds and a smoother coat, mainly grown in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, South America and Indian Subcontinent, having been introduced during the 18th century to India.

Note that it says that one of the smaller varieties is commonly grown in Mexico, so the blog isn't really even quite correct to say "large Mexican chickpeas" (though I've certainly also seen large chickpeas from Mexican brands). I wouldn't lend too much authority to that blog post on that particular point. (A lot of the rest is subjective too, of course.)

  • +1 synonymous. However, in the context of Indian cooking, from my anecdotal learning on the topic: Some make a distinction between Kabuli chana ("chickpea", larger and the third quoted from Wikipedia; this is what I call garbanzo) and chana dal ("chickpea lentil", smaller and often sold split; I've never heard these called garbanzo; I'm not sure which or both of the first two quoted from Wikipedia). But I might be splitting hairs and lentils. – hoc_age Oct 7 '14 at 21:33
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    @hoc_age Chana dal is made from the first one, desi chickpeas (also known as kala chana). I guess you mean Indian cooks speaking English call the big ones garbanzos and the smaller ones chickpeas? In the US, we mostly just have the larger ones, but if someone who calls them garbanzos saw the smaller ones I'm sure they'd still call them garbanzos. – Cascabel Oct 7 '14 at 21:41
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    I don't think I've ever heard "garbanzo bean" in British English, though the OED does have some early-mid 20th century British citations. The Oxford Dictionaries describe the term as "North American" rather than, say, "chiefly North American". – David Richerby Oct 8 '14 at 8:58
  • @DavidRicherby Well, I based it on this:… so either it does see some use there or the ngram viewer has miscategorized a lot of things as British English. – Cascabel Oct 9 '14 at 2:36

There are several varieties of chickpeas. Most of what we see in North America are the larger variety which is used more in certain cooking applications. The names chickpea and garbanzo are the same and interchangeable, with Garbanzo being the Spanish name. There are also several other names that would be interchangeable depending on where you are.

Good information can be found here .

Hope this helps.

protected by Community May 13 '15 at 10:44

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