If falafel, which is made out of chickpeas, became Israel's national food, perhaps milk made out of chickpeas could be the next big hit. The scientists at Volcani Center, who developed the "himtza drink" are confident that it could be a great replacement for cow's milk.
The Agriculture Ministry, in a bid to promote Israel's chickpea growers, understood that there is a limit to how much hummus Israelis could eat. So, they started seeking out additional foods that could be made from the legume.
The world has already grown savvy of the advantages of the chickpea, and have even started making flour from it.
"From this flour, you can make cookies, good bread. It is kosher for Passover and is acceptable for people with celiac," said Dr. Shmuel Galili, from the Agricultural Research Organization, in an explanation of why his team decided to focus on the chickpea as a source for milk substitutes.
The recipe for making the substitute is as follows: soak chickpeas in water overnight, grind them in a blender with water, cook them, then drain the mixture and you have chickpea milk.
"Chickpeas, unlike other crops like soy beans, are a local Israeli crop, and we want to encourage farmers to increase their yield," said Dr. Galili. "We are not familiar with such a development anywhere in the world, and hope it will develop into a true substitute to soy milk.
"People who have tasted it said it's better tasting. Soy milk has its health benefits, but it also contains an excess of plant compounds called phytoestrogens that have a hormonal effect on people, especially pregnant women and small children. Chickpeas have less phytoestrogens," explained Galili.
High production costsWhat is the likelihood that we will see chickpea milk on the supermarket shelves? Dr. Galili recently completed the development of a methodology for producing chickpea milk. Now, his team is in the process of convincing commercial companies to look into making it a marketable product.
One of the problems they will have to overcome, besides penetrating the product to the consumer market, is the high production costs of chickpea milk relative to soy milk.
In a taste test performed by Yedioth Ahronoth, the product received quite reasonable scores, ranking 3.5 in taste, 2.5 in texture, and 3 in smell on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest.