How To Use Chickpea Flour is 7th 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 for this series 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.
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 tastes like beans!
Yet, in South Asia, especially the cuisines of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, chickpea flour has been a staple for hundreds of years used in many different ways. I love exploring the foods of different cultures and am interested in learning about traditional ways chickpea flour is used. I’ve been making pakora for decades but never thought to use chickpea flour for baking.
Fortunately, gluten free recipes have improved as people experiment and share what they learn. I see many home cooks baking all sorts of muffins, cookies and quick breads using chickpea flour.
A few years ago I entered a cooking contest with this Double Chocolate Banana Bread recipe. It’s a high fibre, chocolatey treat that may just convince you to keep an open mind about baking with chickpea flour. 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 many flours so you need to learn a little bit about the different names they are called. Embrace the learning and laugh about it.
“The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.”Albert Einstein
Not only are there many different pea and bean flours but even chickpea flour has several names. Thirty years ago I bought it as gram flour yet I just learned that there are varieties of chickpeas and that is why there are so many different names. Look for any of these names:
- Chickpea flour
- Garbanzo bean flour
- Gram flour
- Chana flour
In Indian food shops I have only seen the beige or pale yellow chickpea flour. In my research I learned about dark brown and black chickpeas used to make Bengal gram flour. I’ve never looked for it or cooked with it…there’s always more to learn!
As always be sure to read the label and look for a single flour, not a flour combination. These products will not have the same taste in traditional chickpea flour recipes. At the time of writing these companies all have a certified gluten free label on their chickpea flour; Purest, Bob’s Red Mill, Anthony’s and Clic.
- Made from dried chickpeas it is pale, yellow or beige in colour
- High in protein, fibre and nutrients with it’s own unique taste
- Too much can give baking an unpleasant bean taste
- Deep-fried vegetable fritters (pakora and bhaji)
- Middle Eastern falafel.
- Socca, a popular fried 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. I added some to my Chinese Onion Bread to make it a little more sturdy.
The Recipes – How To Use Chickpea Flour
Cooks use chickpea flour 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.
- Vegetable Fritters are a favourite East Indian appetizer and side dish in my house
- Double Chocolate Banana Bread is delicious and has no bean taste, an excellent high fibre snack for kids
- Socca is like a blank canvas. This pizza interpretation of socca from Sasha over at Eat Love Eats sounds delicious, Tandoori Sweet Potato Socca Pizzas.
- Gordon over at Gluten Free Daddy posted this collection of 25 recipes made with chickpea flour – Garbanzo Bean Flour recipes.
- Falafel balls are traditionally made with chickpeas and chickpea flour. If you haven’t tried them you must!
- For more than the everyday cook would ever need to know, I stumbled upon this excellent post by Neetu over at Simple Gluten Free Kitchen, titled Types of Chickpeas & Flours.
Dinner Club – An East Indian Menu
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 menu to explore the flavours of these cuisines. Chickpea flour will surely be included.
I’d love to hear what you’ve made with chickpea flour or if I inspired you to try it. Let me know in the comments below.
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.
- How To Use Rice Flour in Gluten Free Baking
- How To Use Starch
- How To Use Millet Flour and Sorghum Flour
- How To Use Corn Flour, Cornmeal and Masa Harina
- How To Use Almond Flour and Quinoa Flour
- How To Use Binders in Gluten Free Baking
- How To Use Chickpea Flour
- How To Use Teff Flour
- How To Use Buckwheat Flour
- How To Use Coconut Flour
- How To Use Oat Flour
- How To Use A Gluten Free Flour Mix