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January 26, 2018

How To Use Chickpea Flour

Post by Cinde Little

How To Use Chickpea Flour is #7 in my monthly blog post series on gluten free flour. Each post includes what I consider to be the best uses for that flour. You can see the full list at the bottom of this post.

The idea is to learn to use the flours you like to make foods you enjoy. Depending on how you cook those choices will be different for every person. Putting some thought into that will help improve your results and likely your happiness in the kitchen.

How to Use Chickpea Flour
How to Use Chickpea Flour -photo credit Jim Little

In previous posts I have covered what I consider to be the common flours and starches that people are likely to purchase when they first adventure into gluten free baking and cooking. There are many more to cover but this month I chose chickpea flour, probably not as common as some of the other flours.

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Bean Flour Facts

Chickpeas are a legume, the family that includes beans and peas, so chickpea flour is a bean flour. Lots of people learn right away that they do not like bean flour. Why? Because it taste like beans!

In South Asia, especially the cuisines of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladesh, chickpea flour has been a staple for hundreds of years in many different ways. I love exploring the foods of different cultures and am interested in learning about the ways they traditionally use chickpea flour.

When I bake desserts I don’t want them to taste like beans. For this reason I have only used chickpea flour in savoury recipes. But people are baking amazing food in home kitchens everywhere and some of them are choosing chickpea flour for baking. In your kitchen you get to decide what flours you want to use and what you make.

I personally hadn’t used bean flour for baking sweets until I entered a cooking contest with this Double Chocolate Banana Bread.  This recipe may convince you to keep an open mind about using chickpea flour in baking. It certainly has for me.

Buying Chickpea Flour

In the old days people talked about “flour”, like it was a single ingredient. In the gluten free world there are more flours than you can count and many of them have multiple names. I say just embrace the learning and try to laugh about it. I often think of this Albert Einstein quote:

“The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.”

Not only are there many different pea and bean flours but even chickpea flour has several names. I just learned that Bengal gram and garbanzo are varieties of chickpeas. So when shopping at your local East Indian food shop, or online, you may see labels that say chickpea flour, gram flour, Bengal gram flour, garbanzo bean flour and simply besan.

Not all chickpea flour is gluten free. At the time of writing these companies all have a gluten free label on their chickpea flour; PurestBob’s Red MillAnthony’s and Clic.

Properties

  • Made from dried chickpeas it is pale, yellow in colour
  • High in protein, fibre and nutrients

Cons

  • Can give sweet baked goods an unpleasant bean taste
  • Takes up valuable pantry space if you only have a single use for it (but you can find several uses for it right in this post)

Best Uses

  • As a batter to coat vegetables before deep-frying (pakora and bhaji)
  • Middle Eastern falafel balls
  • Socca, a popular fried bread and snack food common in southern France and northern Italy
  • As an egg replacement in vegan cooking when mixed with an equal proportion of water and flour (I have never tried it but I thought someone would be interested)
  • Potential for gluten free interpretations of many traditional flatbreads

The Recipes – How To Use Chickpea Flour

Cooks use chickpea flour very creatively in recipes for everything from cookies to pancakes. Here is a small sample of the more traditional uses for chickpea flour that focus on its’ unique taste and properties.

Now I have lots of reading and recipe testing to do. I hope this might intrigue you. Perhaps you will get together with some friends and cook a Middle Eastern or East Indian feast to explore the flavours of these cuisines. Chickpea flour will surely be included.

I’d love to hear if you have used chickpea flour before or if you tried it. Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cooking!


This is the seventh in a series of blog posts on gluten free flours. My intention is to provide a basic overview of several gluten free flours for the everyday home cook, both new and experienced. Let me know in the comments below if you have a specific problem with your baking or a tip you’d like to share.

  1. How To Use Rice Flour in Gluten Free Baking
  2. How To Use Starch
  3. How To Use Millet Flour and Sorghum Flour
  4. How To Use Corn Flour, Cornmeal and Masa Harina
  5. How To Use Almond Flour and Quinoa Flour
  6. How To Use Binders in Gluten Free Baking
  7. How To Use Chickpea Flour
  8. How To Use Teff Flour
  9. How To Use Buckwheat Flour
  10. How To Use Coconut Flour
  11. How To Use Oat Flour
  12. How To Use A Gluten Free Flour Mix

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