Gram (chhola) a common member of the pulse crop, Cicer arietinum, of the family Leguminosae. Gram, also known as Chick pea, appears to have originated in western Asia and spread at a very early date to India and Europe. It is very drought-resistant and requires a cool dry climate, and well-aerated soils. In Bangladesh it is grown as a winter crop and must have cold or cool nights with dew for successful cultivation. It grows best on heavy clay soils. High humidity and cloudy weather affect its flowering and pod setting. It is the third most important pulse crop of Bangladesh and is one of the best legumes for human and animal consumption.
Gram is a freely branched herb, 25-50 cm tall with erect or somewhat spreading growth. Stems, leaves, and fruits are covered with clavate glandular hairs. It has strong taproot and lateral roots with large lobed nodules. Solitary flowers are axillary and greenish-white to pink or blue in colour. Flowers are usually self-pollinated but cross-pollination can occur.Germination is hypogeal. It matures in 3-4 months. Bangladesh produces about 10,000 m tons of grams annually from 31,000 acres of land. Important diseases of gram are wilt, collar rot, and gray mould. The most serious pest in field is the gram caterpillar, Heliothis armigera. The seeds are also very susceptible to the pulse beetles, Callosobruchus chinensis.
The whole dried seeds of gram are eaten cooked, or boiled, or in the form of dhal, which is prepared by splitting the seeds in a mill and separating the husk. Flour is made by grinding the seeds, and it is one of the chief ingredients of many forms of confectionery. Green pods and tender shoots are used as vegetable. The whole dried seed contains approximately 9.8% water, 17.1% protein, 5.3% fat, 61.2% carbohydrate, 3.9% fibre and 2.7% ash. In Bangladesh gram is cultivated in about 84,000 ha of land and the annual production is about 60,000 m tons. [Nishit Kumar Paul]
See also pulse.