Also known as garbanzo flour, chickpea flour makes an excellent healthy alternative to plain flour – if you know how to work with it. Read on to learn more about this gluten-free favorite and how to get the best flavor and use out of it in your cooking.
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. Dry roasting the chickpea flour before use will get rid of the bitter taste and bring out more of its nutty flavor as well as a hint of natural sweetness.
How Chickpea Flour is Made
To make chickpea flour, garbanzo beans (aka white chickpeas) are first soaked and cleaned, then dried completely before being ground into a powder and sieved.
Because the process is so straightforward, there are a variety of ways home cooks and commercial producers can adapt it to suit their needs, from drying the chickpeas in the sun, in an oven, or in a dehydrator, and grinding them in a quern stone, food processor, or even a coffee grinder.
How to Use Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour is mostly commonly associated with Indian cuisine, but also has uses in traditional South European and North African dishes. Use chickpea flour to make crisp pakoras and fritters, tender flatbreads and pancakes, and even hearty curries. It works wonderfully in batters, breading, and doughs and is an effective thickening agent for curries, soups, and stews.
In recent years, chickpea flour has also become a popular gluten-free and protein-rich alternative for regular flour in American kitchens. For baked goods, you can replace half of the all-purpose flour in your recipe with chickpea flour for an added health boost or use it as a complete substitute for denser flours like buckwheat or rye. You can also use an equal amount of it if you’re substituting smaller amounts of plain flour, such as for binding a burger or thickening a sauce. Remember to toast the chickpea flour in a dry skillet or oven beforehand to eliminate any bitterness in the final dish.