While I often rely on canned chickpeas to make my life in the kitchen easier, taking the time to cook dried beans has its benefits. A bag of dried chickpeas is cheap and the final product is more flavorful than the canned stuff — they're creamier, meatier, and richer. It's worth taking a little time on the weekend to cook up a pot and see the difference.
How to Buy Dried Chickpeas
Since dried beans have a long shelf life, it's quite hard to tell just how fresh that bag of dried chickpeas you bought at the grocery store is. And even though they are dried, freshness is important. Dried beans become tougher and less flavorful as they age and no matter how many aromatics you throw in the pot when you cook them, they just won't be very good (or they might not even soften up completely). Obviously dust on the bag (yes, this has happened to me) is a bad sign.
If you can, look to high-quality producers like Rancho Gordo, which cost a bit more but ensure you're getting fresh beans. Bulk bins at the grocery store are also a good option, as they tend to have frequent turnover of stock.
How to Cook Dried Chickpeas
Dried chickpeas can be cooked like any other dried bean. Because they have a tough outer skin, they do benefit from an overnight soak in cold water. In the morning, drain them and cook them in whichever vessel you choose, be it a pot on the stove or in the oven, or by using your slow cooker or pressure cooker.