A chi chi burger

Chickpeas have no etymological connection with small chickens.The last time you bit into a falafel or spread some hummus on warm pitta all you were probably thinking about was the warm spice and crunch of the chickpea fritters, and the way their texture and flavour played with your palate.
I had always thought of the chickpea as an unassuming bean and enjoyed the pleasure of chickpea dishes like hummus and falafel. But until I began digging into its story, I hadn’t realized the strong associations attached to this lowly legume. I was astonished to learn that the Roman orator and statesman Cicero’s name came from the Latin word Cicer for chickpea.The Italian name has remained almost the same today- ceci.But it was the French of course, with their ability to make showiness of an unpretentious object who made it chi chi.The name evolved into chiche or chiche-pois, which, on the model of the French, the good old English then transformed into Chickpea.How the Portuguese ever arrived at Grao de bico I will never know? The name for a small coffee in Portugal is a bica.The name bica originates from the way the coffee flows from the spout (bica or beak).You will notice that chickpeas have little beaks attached to them.Maybe this is how the name evolved in the Portuguese language.
A sprouted chickpea
Another possible explanation...
There is a very traditional Portuguese salad of chickpea and salt cod. The salad is called meia desfeita, which means “half an insult.” The unexpected combination of the two ingredients represented clashing cultures. The salt cod was a subsistence food for generations of the Portuguese. The chickpea, was associated with the hated Moors who had conquered Portugal and Spain.

Chickpea and coriander burger
Makes 4 Quarter pounders  or 8 sliders
This recipe has come in many guises,some including feta cheese,some involving pre-cooking and others only requiring a blitz in the processor and a quick flash fry.This burger is so delicious, you will not miss the meat, I promise! My original inspiration came from Donna Hay,but I have to admit much as I love and repeatedly use her recipes I couldn´t keep the burgers from crumbling and falling apart. I developed my own version which excluded the feta cheese and introduced home made bread crumbs.
2x 4oog jars of chickpeas,drained and rinsed
2 large onions chopped
2 large onions,chopped
1tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4-5 garlic cloves,chopped
1 lemon
1 tablespoon Harissa paste or tomato purée (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh breadcrumbs as needed
mixed leaves or rocket for garnish
Drain and rinse the chickpeas.Sauté the onions in the hot oil until glistening and add the cumin and garlic.When they become aromatic, add the chick peas and enough vegetable stock to barely cover them.Add the lemon juice,Harissa or tomato paste and cover and simmer for about 1 hour.Set aside to cool completely.place the coriander and the chickpeas in a food processor and process until roughly chopped,gradually add the breadcrumbs in stages,using the pulse action until you have aworkable dough like consistency.With your hands form the dough into patties the size you want.Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and cook your burgers in batches for 1-2 minutes each side or until lightly golden.Serve with rocket or mixed leaves, bread and condiment of your choice.I served mine with a chilli coriander chutney.


  1. Looks delish! Good idea. I had the meia desfeita in Monsaraz - a dream.


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