We can probably guess what you’re thinking: chickpea flour? What exactly is that? It’s amazing, is what it is — especially if you’re gluten-free, gluten intolerant, or just plain cutting back on processed flours. Although the concept of flour made from beans might sound foreign, chickpea flour is a gateway to all sorts of delicious food. But first, let’s learn a little more about it.
What is Chickpea Flour?
The name says it all. Chickpea flour is a fine, floury substance that is made from dried or roasted chickpeas that have been ground into a fine, powdery yellow flour. It has a light, tan color and a texture that’s similar to cornstarch, but not quite. While chickpea flour has only recently begun to pop up on grocery store shelves, it has been a staple of Indian, Bangladeshi, Burmese, Nepali, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan. In India, chickpea flour is called gram flour or besan flour and can be made from plain or roasted dried chickpeas.
If you’re the DIY type, you can make your own chickpea flour. But just as a forewarning, it’s going to be noisy. To make your own chickpea flour, you will need dried (uncooked) chickpeas, a high-speed blender, a fine mesh sieve, and an airtight container. Add the dried chickpeas to the blender and run it until the chickpeas have been broken down into a fine powder. Then, set your metal sieve over a bowl and gradually pour in the chickpea flour, shaking the sieve to help it pass through. Return and pieces that are too big to fall into the bowl back to your blender and run it again until everything is broken down. Store your homemade chickpea flour in an airtight container in a cool, dark place like your fridge or freezer. A one-pound bag of dried chickpeas should yield roughly 2 cups of chickpea flour.
Chickpea Flour Nutrition Facts
Chickpea flour is high in fiber, high in protein, and is lower in carbs and calories than traditional wheat flour. Just one cup of chickpea flour contains over 20 grams of protein. It is a good source of folate, containing seven times the amount in whole wheat flour and more even than enriched all-purpose flour. It is also a source of magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. It is also gluten-free and wheat-free, making it a fantastic substitute for making bread for those with allergies.
Chickpea Flour in Southeast Asian Cooking
In Indian and Southeast Asian cusine, chickpea flour is used for a number of things, particularly to make street food like crunchy snacks, fritters, and some desserts. It’s used less frequently in meals, but this Chickpea Flour Dumpling Curry and this Chickpea Flour Stuffed Bottle Gourd Curry are both great examples of how to use chickpea flour for dinner in Indian cuisine. And in Burmese cuisine, chickpea flour is used to make Chickpea Tofu, a high-protein alternative to soy-based tofu that requires no special equipment or lengthy process to make.
It’s used to make Boondhi, crunchy fried chickpea balls that are mixed with fried peanuts and curry leaves. It’s also used to make sev, a crunchy snack made from fried chickpea flour paste with spicy seasoning, which is used in street food like this Aloo Chaat (spicy potatoes with sev) and this Dabeli, a sandwich with potatoes, chutney, sev, pomegranate seeds, and chutney.
Chickpea flour is used as a crispy, gluten-free coating for fritters, like this Vegetable Bajji, which is like Indian tempura, or these Onion Pakoras. You can also see how chickpea flour creates a crispy coating for baked fritters, which are much lower in oil, in these Broccoli and Onion Pakoras, these Baked Onion Pakodas, and these Baked Curry Peanuts.
Chickpea flour is also used to make Besan Chilla, a pancake made from chickpea flour that is popular for breakfast or brunch. But it can also be used to make different types of flatbread, like this Herb Roti made from a blend of regular and chickpea flour or this Sweet Potato and Chickpea Naan made from spelt and chickpea flour.
Just like in Southeast Asian cooking, you can use chickpea flour as a batter to make gluten-free fritters, like these Spicy Zucchini Fritters, these Tofu “Fish” Fritters, or these Spicy Cauliflower Fritters. It is often combined with rice flour for the perfect, crispy fritter texture. Or it can be used to make fries, like these Crispy Chickpea Fries. P.S., it’s also the crispy coating in these Cauliflower “Wings.”
Use it to make this Chickpea Flatbread and this Roasted Potato and Onion Farinata or gluten-free pizza crust, as in this Chickpea Pizza With Herb Pesto. Or make portable pizzas like this Mini Deep Dish Chickpea Flour Pizzas — they’re like pizza bagels, but healthier.
If you really want to blow your taste buds away, chickpea flour and tofu can be used to make high-protein plant-based meats, as in these Tofu Coins in Spicy Peanut Sauce or these Tofu “Chicken” Fillets.
Use chickpea flour to take the most important meal of the day to the next level! Allergic to soy and feeling like you’re missing out on tofu scramble? Chickpea flour can solve that — just use Chickpea Tofu to make chickpea tofu scramble. Or, scramble the flour itself. Trust us, it sounds weirder than it actually is. Scrambled chickpea flour, like this Chickpea Flour Scramble With Mushroom Bacon, is a great high-protein breakfast.
Or, how about quiches, omelets, and frittatas? You would never guess that this Tomato Basil Quiche or this Chickpea Flour Quiche are egg-free. You can also make Chickpea Flour Omelets and use your favorite filling or this Spanish Omelet With Sun-Dried Tomatoes. And this Chickpea Frittata With Purple Potatoes and Thai Basil is a brunch-lover’s dream.
You should be able to find chickpea flour in your local grocery store. If not there, try the closest Indian grocery store. It should be grouped together with other gluten-free flours. Otherwise, you can find it online. This Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour is perfect for all your chickpea flour needs. One 16-ounce bag costs about $8. Or, if you want an organic option, give this Organic Chana Besan by Vedica Organics a try. One two-pound bag costs $13.
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