Before the age of the Instant Pot, this question – “Is it worth soaking chickpeas (chana)” would be rather puzzling to most Indians. Like, how are you supposed to cook the chickpeas [a.k.a chana, garbanzo beans] otherwise? Leave it in the pressure cooker for an hour? Listen to all that whistling sounds go on and on- Are you mad, etc…etc..?
But, the Instant Pot has made cooking chickpeas without soaking it actually possible…Isn’t that amazing? Because barring a few enthusiastic meal-prep goddesses, the majority of us forget to soak that darn chickpeas the previous night. (Where is that time machine, when you really need it, eh?)
The first question that comes to mind then is – Is there a difference? Have no fear, your favorite blogger is here to answer this questions for you. I have done a side-by-side comparison of cooked chickpeas by:
- Pressure Cook with Soaking
- Pressure Cook without soaking
Cooking Times for Chickpeas
Obviously, I can’t cook both styles for the same amount of cooking time. Because then the unsoaked chickpeas will be undercooked – well, duh!! But, if we follow the Instant Pot Manual, the time given for:
- Soaked Chickpeas: 10-15 minutes (I chose 12 min as a midpoint)
- Unsoaked Chickpeas: 35-40 minutes (I chose 37 min as a midpoint)
Basically, in this experiment, the time for cooking the chickpeas vary; but in the end, we can see if there is any difference between the 2 methods.
Version 1: Soak the Chickpeas overnight
Soak 1 cup chickpeas overnight in 2 cups water. The next morning, wash them and strain them. Notice – it expands…by how much, you ask?
1 cup of dry chickpeas becomes 2 and 1/4 cups.
Inside the Instant Pot goes the (soaked) chickpeas along with 2 cups of fresh water:
The chickpeas cooks in the Instant Pot for 12 minutes:
After 12 minutes pressure cooking, 10 minutes of natural release time, the cooked chickpeas look like this:
Ok, not much of a surprise here. Well-cooked chickpeas, meh no biggie!!
Version 2: Pressure cook dried chickpeas for 37 minutes (no soaking)
Wash 1 cup of dried chickpeas, add it along with 2 cups of water to instant pot.
Set timer for 37 minutes of pressure cooking.
Open after 37 minutes of pressure cooking + 10 minutes natural release.
37 minutes of high pressure – and look at that!! Soft, tender chickpeas almost falling apart!!
Compare the 2 methods:
- Get the inside scoop!!
The unsoaked + cooked chickpeas are almost falling apart from the constant high pressure (37 min) – Like make me into a hummus already…falling apart!!
Alternatively, in the soaked + cooked (12 min) method, each individual chickpea hold its rounded shape well. These are strong, independent chickpeas standing with its head held high, no falling apart chickpeas here, no siree…!! 🙂
BUT, WAIT!!!…What happens if we cut the chickpeas and see inside?
For all that constant pressure attacking the chickpea, even though it penetrates the outer layers to the point of it becoming mushy; at 37 minutes, the heat is still unable to reach into the center point of the chickpeas.
A few more minutes, and the chickpeas would have been cooked all the way through.
The soaked chickpeas, on the other hand, are evenly cooked all the way through.
2) Unsoaked beans are more thirsty and smaller
Unsoaked beans are thirsty:
While pressure cooking 1 cup of dried beans, the unsoaked method absorbs 1 cup of water. While pressure cooking 2 and 1/4 cups of soaked beans (=1 cup dried beans), they only absorb 0.5 cups of water.
This makes sense, because…remember, the overnight soaked chickpeas already have a headstart in the hydration process.
Unsoaked beans end up smaller in size:
Despite absorbing less water during the cooking phase, the size of the soaked+cooked chickpea is bigger.
1 cup of dried chickpea after cooking yields:
- Soaked: 2.5 cups cooked chickpeas
- Unsoaked: 2.25 cups cooked chickpeas
So here is the key difference between the 2 methods:
They are well-hydrated from the soaking process and cooks all the way to the center of the chickpea uniformly
In order to cook all the way to the center, you have to cook it long enough that the outer surfaces are almost falling apart.
However, in a surprise twist, I really liked the taste of the 37-minute cooked chickpeas a lot. I used the unsoaked chickpeas to make my quick 10-minute Chana Masala; and it was delicious. The falling-apart style makes for a wonderfully, saucy Indian-style Chana Masala.
On the other hand, the soaked chickpeas do well with a sundal, salad or chaat-style dishes that need the chickpea to hold its shape well.
So, the answer for “Is soaking chickpeas worth it?” is: It depends…on the dish you want to make with it. I hope this experiment helped you understand the process of cooking chickpeas better. Post your comments and thoughts below, I love hearing from you all.
Curious to learn more? Check out:
- Cooking Chana Dal: Soak vs Roast
- To soak or not soak the rice
- Idli Rice vs Boiled Rice
- Which rice is best for a diabetic?
Want to buy an Instant Pot? Consider using this Amazon affiliate link for the Instant Pot Air Fryer + EPC Combo 8QT Electronic Pressure Cooker:
Hi,i like the small expriments you make and post.very very useful in day to day cooking .I would like to know your similar analysis on normal pressure cooker and an insta pot.thank you.
Hi Padma, I am so happy to hear that you like these experiments!! I will definitely post on pressure cooker vs Instant Pot soon.
Soaking chickpeas is not just for the sake of cooking. They are hot in nature. Thats why we soak it in water overnight.