What Is Chickpea Flour and How Is It Used? (2024)

Chickpea flour is a gluten-free flour that is a traditional ingredient in Indian cuisine, but one that is gaining popularity in the West as an alternative to wheat flour.

You're probably familiar with chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. It's perhaps best known as the main ingredient in dishes like hummus, falafel and chana masala. So is chickpea flour simply ordinary chickpeas that have been ground up? The answer is: yes and no.

Fast Facts

It's made from ground-up chickpeas.

It is also called gram flour or besan.

Can be used as a thickener or binding agent for batters.

What is Chickpea Flour?

There are a couple of different types of chickpea flour, and the main difference between them is that they're made from two different types of chickpeas: kabuli chickpeas, which are the common tan-colored chickpeas you're probably most familiar with, and desi chickpeas, which are smaller and with rougher hulls. Desi chickpeas also come in darker colors, from green to brown to nearly black, depending on when the seedpods are harvested.

The traditional kind of chickpea flour, which is sometimes called gram flour, or besan, is made from the brown version of desi chickpeas, which are also known as kala chana or Bengal chickpeas. To produce the flour, the dark hulls are removed from dried chickpeas, and then the inner seed is split. The resulting split chickpea is sometimes called chana dal, which can lead to a bit of confusion, as the word dal often refers to lentils. Indeed, the hulled and split desi chickpeas do resemble yellow lentils or yellow split peas.

But they are in fact chickpeas. While lentils, peas, and chickpeas all come from the same botanical family, Fabaceae, they're different species.

Chickpea Flour Varieties

In any case, one version of chickpea is flour is made by grinding the chana dal into a fine powder. This is the version known as besan or gram flour.

The other version is made by grinding up dried kabuli chickpeas, the common tan-colored ones, to make a flour. This is also called chickpea flour.

And the two products are similar, though not identical. Besan, made from desi chickpeas will be finer and denser. Whereas chickpea flour made from ordinary garbanzos will be a bit coarser, and fluffier. The flavor will be similar, but the biggest difference is in how much liquid you'll need to produce a batter with the same consistency. Besan will require less water.

Ideally, the recipe you are following will specify what type of chickpea flour to use for any given preparation. Even better is to use recipes that are either on the package of chickpea flour you're using or are provided by the manufacturer on their website. Bob's Red Mill chickpea flour, for instance, is made from ground garbanzo beans.

How to Use Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour can be used as a binding ingredient in fritters and veggie burgers, as a thickener for sauces, soups and stews, for making flatbreads and batter-based foods like pancakes and waffles, and to make batters for deep-frying other foods. It's also a great ingredient to combine with other gluten-free flours for making quickbreads, cookies and muffins.

What Does It Taste Like?

Like other flours, chickpea flour has a neutral flavor, and dishes prepared with it will derive their flavors from the flavorings, seasonings, oils, fats and main ingredients that the dish consists of, rather than from the chickpea flour itself. If you were to taste it straight from the container, it would have a dry, bland, powdery flavor.

Chickpea Flour Recipes

  • Garbanzo Flatbread
  • Moroccan Chickpea Flour and Egg Tart
  • Ligurian Chickpea Pancake

In addition, this recipe for veggie burgers made from chickpeas, suggests as a variation using chickpea powder as a binding agent.

Where to Buy Chickpea Flour

You can find chickpea flour at the supermarket or specialty food stores, at Indian and South Asian grocery stores, and online.

Chickpea Flour Storage

Chickpea flour can be stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed, airtight container, for about six months, or longer if kept in the refrigerator. In the freezer, if stored properly, it should keep for 1 to 2 years.

Make Your Own Chickpea Flour

One way to sort out the confusion relating to which kind of chickpea flour you're using is to grind it yourself from whatever type of chickpea you choose. Obviously, ordinary dried garbanzo beans are much more widely available, but if you have access to an Indian grocery store near you, you will probably be able to get your hands on some of the less common types of chickpeas. Again, look for products with names such as split chickpeas, chana dal, split bengal gram or split desi chickpeas.

Or you can simply grind your own regular chickpeas to make your own chickpea flour.

Basically, once you've obtained your chickpeas, it's a simple matter of grinding them in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix blender), which will grind two cups of dried chickpeas into a powder in about 45 seconds.

Alternative Starches for Every Lifestyle

What Is Chickpea Flour and How Is It Used? (2024)


Is chickpea flour just ground up chickpeas? ›

Chickpea flour is known as garam flour or garbanzo bean flour and it is made by grinding dried chickpeas. A staple in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, chickpea flour is commonly found in Asian and Middle Eastern groceries, but you can also make it yourself at home with a spice grinder or coffee grinder.

How is chickpea flour used? ›

Chickpea flour is used throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa to make sweet and savory flatbreads, thicken soups and stews, and add richness to dumplings and cakes. It is the main ingredient in shiro wat, a hearty, spicy Ethiopian stew laced with tomatoes and onions.

Is chickpea flour healthier than all purpose flour? ›

Chickpea flour is full of healthy nutrients. It's a great alternative to refined wheat flour, as it's lower in carbs and calories yet richer in protein and fiber. Research suggests that it may have antioxidant potential and could decrease levels of the harmful compound acrylamide in processed foods.

Can I replace regular flour with chickpea flour? ›

Try it yourself with our delicious red onion & chilli bhajis with mint & garlic raita. You can usually substitute half the amount of plain flour in a recipe for chickpea flour.

Is chickpea flour hard to digest? ›

Researchers noted that because chickpea flour maintains the structure of its dietary fiber, creating a form of resistant starch, it takes longer to digest compared to wheat flour. This is similar to other types of “alternative flours” made from non-wheat sources, such as cassava, black beans, peas, and lentils.

Can you eat uncooked chickpea flour? ›

Chickpea flour or Garbanzo flour is ok for raw baking though it has a bitter taste. Corn flour is safe raw but doesn't have a particularly pleasant taste and texture. Quinoa flour made from raw, sprouted, and soaked grains is safe to eat but not commonly used. Oat flour is another safe-to-eat-raw flour.

Is chickpea flour good for gut health? ›

Chickpeas contain prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial organisms in our intestines besides being high in protein and fiber, said Mukti Singh.

Does chickpea flour taste different? ›

What Does Chickpea Flour Taste Like? Chickpea flour has a strong earthy flavor and a pleasant nuttiness that deepens when cooked. When raw, however, it has a sharp, bitterness that easily overpowers its more nuanced undertones.

Is chickpea flour high carb? ›

One cup of chickpea flour has 356 calories, 21 grams of protein and 53 grams of carbs. This is significantly better than the 455 calories, 13 grams of protein and 95 grams of carbs found in 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

Is chickpea flour anti-inflammatory? ›

Chickpea flour is also a terrific anti-inflammatory food, as consuming beans has been shown to have anti-inflammatory abilities and protective benefits against cancer — in particular cancer within the digestive tract, including colon, stomach and kidney cancer.

Can diabetics eat chickpea flour? ›

Chickpea flour

Fiber is a BFF to diabetes. Research has shown that people who eat more dietary fiber may be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and that this nutrient can help manage blood sugar. For a high-fiber baking alternative, check out chickpea flour.

How long does chickpea flour last? ›

Chickpea flour can be stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed, airtight container, for about six months, or longer if kept in the refrigerator. In the freezer, if stored properly, it should keep for 1 to 2 years.

Is garbanzo flour and chickpea flour the same thing? ›

Gram flour, also called besan, garbanzo flour, or chickpea flour, is made from ground chickpeas, which are naturally gluten-free. Chickpeas also have many names, including garbanzo beans, garbanzo, gram, Bengal gram, Egyptian pea, cici beans, chi chi beans and cece beans.

What can I do with chickpea flour? ›

My Favorite Ways to Use Chickpea Flour
  1. Make the easiest vegetable fritters. ...
  2. Thicken soup. ...
  3. Make socca or farinata. ...
  4. Turn that socca into a dinner flatbread. ...
  5. Or make breakfast flatbreads.
Nov 17, 2020

Is chickpea flour the same as chickpea powder? ›

Garbanzo beans are loaded with protein and dietary fiber and are a good source of iron. Garbanzo flour‚ also known as gram flour, chickpea powder and cici bean flour‚ is popular in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking and baking. Use it in dishes like falafel, hummus, socca, farinata, papadums and pakoras.

Can you make chickpea flour by grinding chickpeas? ›

Simple, place your chickpeas in a coffee/spice grinder or high-speed blender, and grind them into a fine powder. Sieve the flour, to remove any larger lumps, and then you can re-grind these too. Once is ready, store your chickpea flour in an airtight container for up to two months.

Do you need to soak chickpeas to make chickpea flour? ›

I usually use dried chickpeas here to make my flour, however, for increased nutritional value you can sprout and then dry the chickpeas before grinding them into flour. To do this, add a cup of chickpeas to a large jar, loosely cover with some cloth and soak 12 to 24 hours, then rinse well.

How many chickpeas are in chickpea flour? ›

On average, 1 cup of dry chickpeas makes just under 1 1/2 cups of chickpea flour. In my experience, 1 cup of chickpea flour weighs roughly 120 grams, if you want to measure out exactly that weight in dry chickpeas, to make a single cup of flour for a recipe.

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