Bengal Gram, Chickpea
According to a rough estimate, the cultivation of Cicer arietinum is 7,000 years old and its diversity was found in Western Asia. In India, the earliest records date from about 4,000 BC at Atranjikhera in Uttar Pradesh. Carbonized seeds of Chickpea that have been unearthed in various archaeological sites throughout the Middle-East indicate the use of this legume already in the Neolithic period together with the cereals wheat and barley and the pulses pea and lentil. The species has also been introduced into parts of America, Australia and Africa, but it has not achieved much importance outside its original area of distribution.
Extensively cultivated throughout India, especially in north India. Not found in the wild state anywhere.
It is an erect or spreading much-branched annual herb, covered all over with glandular hair. The leaves are pinnately compound, leaflets are opposite or alternate, stipulate and strongly veined. The flowers are papilionaceous, white to various shades of pink or blue. The pods are one or two seeded. The seeds are attached to ventral suture, beaked, round or semi-round, wrinkled or semi-wrinkled and exalbuminous. The seed coat is yellow, faun, green, orange-brown, pink or black, smooth, puckered, granular or tuberculate. There are two varieties cultivated in India, one is a Macrosperma plant with big pods and the other is a Microsperma plant with small pods (Both are genetically different).
Carbohydrates and starch are the major compounds in the seeds. Amino acids and minerals are found in large amount. Also many anti-fungal and antibacterial compounds like Daphnetin and Genistein were isolated from the seed.
Daphnetin has antibacterial activity on both gram-positive bacteria and gram negative bacteria. Genistein has anti-fungal activity1.
It is edible and no adverse effect is reported from this plant.
The seeds are stimulant & tonic, used in skin diseases, and as nourishing hair and face washes.
- Harborne, J.B., 1999, Phytochemical Dictionary, Taylor and Francis Ltd., London.