Bengal Gram: What is Bengal Gram?

Bengal Gram: Chickpea also known as Bengal Gram, garbanzo or garbanzo bean, or Egyptian pea is a yellow lentil, rounded on one side and flat on the other.
Chickpea or Bengal gram is one of the earliest cultivated legumes. In Recent Times, it is popularly known as Chana Dal in Indian Cusine.

Chickpea is majorly cultivated in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, and Mexico. Bengal Gram or chickpea seeds are small and dark and have a rough coat.
In the Indian vegetarian culinary scenario, Bengal gram is a major ingredient. It is essentially used in making curries. In southern India, unripe grams are picked and consumed as snacks and the leaves are added in the making of salads.

Nutrition Facts – Bengal Gram

Chickpeas, Boiled Chickpeas
Sources include: USDA

Amount Per 1 tbsp (12.5 g)100 grams1 cup (200 g)100 grams
Calories 364

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6 g9%
Saturated fat 0.6 g3%
Cholesterol 0 mg0%
Sodium 24 mg1%
Potassium 875 mg25%
Total Carbohydrate 61 g20%
Dietary fiber 17 g68%
Sugar 11 g
Protein 19 g38%
Vitamin C6%Calcium10%
Iron34%Vitamin D0%
Vitamin B625%Cobalamin0%
Magnesium28%
USDA

Bengal gram is called Chickpea or Gram (Cicer aritinum L.) in South Asia and Garbanzo bean in most of the developed world. Bengal gram is a major pulse crop in India, widely grown for centuries, and accounts for nearly 40 percent of the total pulse production. India is the major growing country of the world, accounting for 61.65 percent of the total world area under Bengal gram during 2002 and 68.13 percent of the total world production.

Bengal gram is widely appreciated as healthy food. It is a protein-rich supplement to cereal-based diets, especially to the poor in developing countries, where people are vegetarians or cannot afford animal protein. The pulse proteins are rich in lysine and have low sulfur-containing amino acids. It offers the most practical means of eradicating protein malnutrition among vegetarian children and nursing mothers. Bengal gram has a very important role in the human diet in our country.

Bengal Gram - Chick Pea
Bengal Gram – Chick Pea

ORIGIN of Bengal Gram

Bengal gram is known in this country since ancient times. It is said to be one of
the oldest pulses known and cultivated in Asia and Europe. According to Aykroyd and
Doughty (1964), the center of origin of Bengal gram is stated to be the eastern Mediterranean,
but its probable place of origin lies in Southwestern Asia, i.e. countries lying to the North-west of
India such as Afghanistan and Persia. According to De Candolle, the fact that gram has a
Sanskrit’s name “Chanaka” indicates that the crop was under cultivation in India longer
than in any other country in the world.

Botanical description: Bengal Gram

Bengal gram belongs to the family Leguminosae. It is a small, much-branched
herbaceous plant. The Indian grams have been classified into two broad groups:

  • Cicer aritinum L. (Desi Gram or Brown Gram): In this group, the colour
    of the seed ranges from yellow to dark brown. Seed size is usually small. It
    is the most widely grown group cultivated in India.
  • Cicer kabulium (Kabuli or White Gram): In this group, the colour of the
    seed is usually white. Grains are bold and attractive.

IMPORTANCE of Bengal Gram

During 2001-2002, the total production touched to 5.27 million tonnes. The major
producing states are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra
Pradesh and Karnataka. During 2001-2002,

  • India’s total export of Bengal gram was 1375.676 tonnes valued at Rs. 36.10 lakh, while export of Dal Chana was 4276.674 tonnes valued at Rs. 113.94 lakh.
  • These exports were to USA, U.K, Canada, Saudi Arab, UAE, Srilanka, Malaysia, etc.
  • The total import of gram during the said period was 15684.26 tonnes worth Rs. 274.28 lakh and 6826 tonnes gram Dal worth Rs.1187.86 lakh.
  • The main countries, which exported gram whole and Dal to India were Myanmar, Tanzania, Iran, Canada, Pakistan, Turkey, etc.
  • Sprouted seeds are recommended for curing scurvy.
  • Malica and Oxalic acids collected from green leaves are prescribed for intestinal disorders. Gram seeds contain a higher percentage of oil (4-5%) than other pulses.
  • It has also unique characteristic of maintaining and restoring soil fertility. It is consumed in different forms all over country and thus, forms an important component of Indians’ diet.

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