Fresh green garbanzo beans–called hamleh in Arabic–are one of spring must-haves in Jordan. What I like about the Middle East and miss sometimes in the US, is that you don’t have to go out of your way to eat seasonal. It’s normal, common sense, and what everyone does. Some foods are available all year long, but for the most part, people buy seasonal then freeze or can for use during the rest of the year.
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Fresh green garbanzo beans are one of those foods. Sold between March and May, you can get them raw or roasted from street vendors, or raw from most grocery stores.
Hamleh sold in a street close to my parent's house
I just read a few days ago a post by Janet Helm from Nutrition Unplugged saying that fresh green garbanzo beans are an emerging trend in the US. Sweet! I’ve never seen them is US farmer’s markets, but that’s where they are supposed to be. Rumor has it–and hopefully a fact more than a rumor–that some Costco locations will sell them in the freezer section by the end of this year. Now I don’t have to travel thousands of miles in the spring to Jordan to satisfy this craving of mine!
Janet lists several recipes in her post that are out-of-the-box for most Middle Easterners, who are used to eating fresh garbanzo beans as a snack. I would say, a healthy snack too. The only nutrition information on green garbanzo beans I could find was from Garden Green Garbanzos (TM) website. A portion of 3.5 ounces has 140 calories, 9 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, 40% of the daily value of folic acid, and 15% of iron.
Not only is it healthy to start with, pealing the pods once roasted is time consuming, meaning it’s not a fast snack you could gulp in 5 minutes, meaning you are more likely to eat less before you are full. And, you can roast without the addition of oils and with minimum salt.
How to prepare?
Very simple. My mom roasts the beans on the stove top, but some people boil them in water or broil them in the oven.
- Wash the beans in their pods
- Place in a saute pan or large pot
- Place on a stove top on medium heat
- Leave for 30 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes
- It’s done when you can peal the pod easily and the bean is soft and juicy
- Dissolve a small amount of salt (start with 1/4 tsp) in water, and pour over the beans. Then drizzle some fresh lemon juice