What’s the Life of a Chickpea?

The Life of a Chickpea project uses the humble chickpea’s journey as a metaphor for understanding societal models, British values, and individual roles in a diverse community.

1. What’s the Life of a Chickpea?

The Life of a Chickpea is a seminar series that utilise the creative imagination of students to aspire to actively promote the British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs through the journey of “A Life as a Chickpea.”

2. How do we do?

“What dish would you like to be in, if you were a chickpea?” is the first question we ask when asking students to begin their own journey in our seminars. As a decision maker in a school, your first question to us may be “What do chickpeas have to do with equality, diversity, and inclusion?”.

For a school student in the UK, sometimes the following questions can become as equally difficult to answer: 

  1. What are British values and how can you participate in their practice?  
  2. What dish would you like to be in if you were a chickpea?  

Comical and the link between the two questions itself perhaps at first not entirely clear, but after identifying a common difficulty that students experience throughout the UK in answering the first question, we were motivated to develop solutions and, in that search, emerged the second question.  
Through utilising creative imagination in our seminar and engaging students with diverse, local, community leaders we support their confidence in answering both questions.

3. What is Noah’s Pudding?

As the Anatolian tale goes, after the flood waters gradually began to recede Noah wanted to celebrate surviving the flood with a dessert. But with scarce resources left onboard, he began by bringing together all the left-over ingredients, including seemingly odd combinations such as pomegranates, white beans, and of course our chickpea, Noah created his own pudding. With its sweet porridge-like texture, Noah’s Pudding is something that is commonly enjoyed throughout Anatolia as both a dessert and specifically on the 10th day of the Islamic month Muharram, as a sign of respect to Noah and his followers.

Evolving through close to twenty years of community-rooted experience, our Noah’s Pudding and its tale have been a useful tool we utilise in dialogue at all levels of society, whether this be as an interfaith icebreaker in places of worship, bringing diverse community members together with the police or in schools throughout the country.

You can learn more about it from our Noah’s Pudding manual, which is part of Dialogue Society’s Community Dialogue Manual Series and was developed to encourage interaction between members of different communities.

Food is a great way to bring people together. So, with the common biblical figure “Noah” present in the three major Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as being well-known in popular culture, the story of Noah (and his pudding) seemed like an appropriate place to start.

4. And, why the Life of a Chickpea?

For us at the Dialogue Society, we see Noah’s Pudding as more than just an opportunity to bring different faith communities together. By taking a single ingredient from the dessert on a journey of becoming part of a wider dish, and asking critical questions along the way, we ask our participants to evaluate how they see themselves in relation to their wider society.

Noah’s Pudding brings “diverse” ingredients together, that do not lose their individual texture, taste, or colour during the cooking process (unlike say in a salad or soup – the two other options for our chickpeas can pick to be in).

5. Aims and Objectives

Enhanced Understanding of the Concept of Dialogue

We aspire for all students to understand the significance of dialogue at community levels and through brainstorming, identify different outlets available to voice opinions in democratic Britain. 

Increase Understanding and Identifying with British Values 

At current the government states that British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance must be actively promoted. Our presentation does exactly this by engaging the students with diverse community leaders who are also on the same page. 

Thus, through increasing representation, engaging seminars, and cooperation with the students we aim to both increase understanding of and identity with British values.  

Build Resilience to Extremism

Unfortunately, a very real threat that remains in our schools is that of both far-right/left and extremist religious-interpretative radicalism. Our aim with this seminar is to build resilience by default to all forms of extremism as increased respect and tolerance negate the ideological basis of all forms of extremism.  

Individual Development 

Teaching British values does not only support students’ interactions and engagements with the wider society it is also a major factor in supporting individual development. Our aim from the seminar is to have a positive contribution to the individual development of students supporting them in becoming fully rounded members of society with increased cultural and interpersonal capacity, treating others with respect and tolerance.

Leadership and Encouraging Participation in Democracy 

Our seminar aims to boost students’ leadership skills through the workshop following the seminar, in which students are split into teams and asked to work on possible solutions to barriers to integration they may have identified on various levels of society; this task we hope will also aid in supporting both the student’s ability to identify and partake in opportunities within British democracy.  

6. Who are we?

The project was initiated by the Dialogue Society, a registered charity, established in London in 1999, which has been actively trying to advance social cohesion by connecting communities, empowering people to engage, and contributing to developing dialogue and community-building ideas.

Our aim is to facilitate dialogue on a wide range of social issues. We stand for democracy, human rights, equality, and freedom of speech. We do this by bringing people together through discussion forums, courses, training, capacity-building publications, and outreach: operating nationwide with regional branches across the UK. 


If you are interested in the Life of a Chickpea project or have questions about the project, please get in touch with us.