Ord River chickpeas
Author: Max Veenhuyzen
Photography: Dave Wheeler
12:00AM, Aug 12, 2014
Abundant West Australian sunshine plus healthy water
reserves equals some of the nation's plumpest and tastiest
Who The Ord River runs through the east Kimberley, carrying 2500 gigalitres of water to the ocean daily during the wet season's storms. The construction of dams in the 1960s and '70s has enabled local farmers to use this rainfall to irrigate their land.
How Chickpeas were first planted in the Ord River Irrigation Area in 1985. Seeds are sown in May, at the beginning of the dry season, and harvested in October, before the return of the rains. Each year, the Ord River District Co-operative processes 1000 tonnes of Kimberley Large kabuli chickpeas, a variety developed by the state agricultural department that consistently yields larger peas than the Macarena kabuli and the other main chickpea type, the desi, grown elsewhere in Australia.
Why The area's moisture-retaining Cununurra clay soil is another plus for a thirsty crop such as chickpeas. With plenty of sunshine during the growing season, Ord farmers are able to harvest a larger pea that performs well for both taste and build. "They're just as good as Spanish chickpeas I've cooked with," says chef Frank Camorra, an admirer of the Ord River product since the earliest days of his Melbourne restaurant, MoVida. "They've got a great nutty flavour, stay plump and soft like a pillow and they keep their shape."
Where Ord River chickpeas are available in bulk from markets and continental delis throughout Australia.