Seed Saving: beginner
Black Chickpea from Murgia Carsica (Cicer arietinum)
Black Chickpea from Murgia Carsica (Cicer arietinum): Chickpea is the third largest production crop in the world, just after soybeans and beans; it is amongst the oldest domesticated crops.
This particular variety comes from the Karst areas of Murgie and it is at high risk of disappearing, reason why cultivating it, and saving its seeds in purity, is equally important. They are selected to be grown in difficult agricultural conditions, the plant is exceptionally rustic and sustainable, requiring almost no irrigation or treatment.
Sow from February, it does not do well in clayey or too fertile soils, which causes problems during the fruit setting phase; it does excellent in arid, sandy soils. Irrigation can be suspended when the plant is well established. It can only be damaged by water stagnation.
The Murgia flat uplands are located approximately in central Puglia, the portion in the province of Bari is defined by the locals as "Murgia karst" and is located in the South-east. In the past, this area was filled with farms and crops: vineyards, almond and olive groves, which adapted well to the rocky and often dry terrain. In addition to these crops, destined for trade, the peasants planted legumes and onions, which were the basis of their diet and which they sold in local markets; They planted chickpeas and lentils, mainly, and among the former ones, a particularly wrinkled, black chickpea. The chickpea is one of the most cultivated legumes worldwide. In Italy, however, the quantities produced every year are negligible, and are almost all produced in central, southern Italy.
The black chickpea from the Murgia Karst is different in shape and colour from the common chickpea. This local ecotype is shaped like a grain of corn, much smaller, with wrinkled and irregular skin; its apex is shaped like a hook. It is very tasty and rich in fiber (three times the amount present in a common chickpea), and iron. Thanks to its high concentration of iron, it was previously recommended for pregnant women.
It has never had a thriving market, maybe because its preparation requires longer times. The skin requires a soaking time of 12 hours, and a cooking time of about two hours. But its is very good, vaguely herbaceous, its natural flavour makes it possible to consume it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, unsalted. The local cuisine offers it in soups with abundant sauté of onions, or as a first course with tagliolini (kind of pasta), tomato and a drizzle of oil.