Fresh Garbanzo Beans (Chana)
Whether they're called chana, garbanzos or chickpeas, most people are probably familiar with the dried version of this versatile legume. Fresh chana beans however, may be new to many, but are delicious in their own right and deserve to be used more. They taste very different from the canned or dried version; they have a mild sweetness with a light, buttery, tender texture. If you're looking for a snack, fresh garbanzos are a great a source of fiber, protein and iron.
We eat them straight and simple; I usually place a basket full of chana bean pods in the kitchen and every member of the family stops by and munches on the beans as is. The little kids in particular adore them; they're very easy to shell. My little munchkin sits for hours at the dining table peeling off the little shells; she finds a lot of joy and fun discovering the cocooned edamame-like (or fava-like) beans. But unlike edamame beans, the shell feels almost like thin paper whereas edamame has a thick velvety shell.
I also serve them in salads. I generally prefer not to cook them as the nutrients would be depleted, but you could quickly blanch them and use them as you would use green beans or green peas, such as in falafel, soups or beef stews.
You can find them in most Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian markets. If you've never had them before, it's worth giving fresh garbanzo beans a try.