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I bought a bag of chickpea flour once thinking (erroneously) that I could use it to make hummus. I've since bought dried chickpeas and made hummus the "right" way... but now I have no idea what to do with my unopened bag of chickpea flour. What is it generally used for?

Now, I know it can be used as a substitute for eggs (in vegan baking) and flour (for gluten-free cooking), but I'd rather not use it as a substitute for something better if I don't have to, so I'm looking for recipes where chickpea flour is the preferred ingredient.

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14 Answers 14

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Chickpea flour (gram flour, besan) is very useful in Indian cookery.

The most common use in the West is probably for making bhajis and pakora. The most popular of which are Onion Bhajis, very popular in the UK. They are essentially an spiced onion fritter, shaped in either discs or balls. Any vegetables can be used to make pakora (which is essentially the same thing) or bhajis, but spinach (sag pakora), aubergine (us eggplant, brinjal bhaji), potato (aloo pakora) or cauliflower (gobi pakora) are the most common, sometimes in combination.

Onion Bhajis

Gram flour is also used for making poppadoms (also papad, papadum, a crisp fried pancake, served as an accompaniment to meals with chutney.

Poppadoms with Chutney

One of the more commonly seen uses is in chevda (sometimes chivda), or as we call it in the UK usually Bombay Mix (I believe it is called Punjabi Mix in the US). A mixture of dried savoury snacks, coated in spice. One of the primary ingredients is sev, a dried noodle made from gram flour. Mixtures predominantly composed of sev are called sev mamra.

Chevda - Bombay Mix

There are also a number of Indian sweets made with besan.

Besan Barfi (barfi is something akin to fudge, made with condensed milk):

Besan Barfi

Besan Ladoo (little sweet balls):

Besan Ladoo


NB. You can use it as an egg substitute in vegan cookery, but soya flour works better for the same purpose and, in my opinion, has less associated flavour.

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5  
Gorgeous pictures! –  Martha F. Mar 1 '11 at 17:50
    
@Martha F.: The deep yellow of the besan looks good easily, makes you hungry. ;-) –  Orbling Mar 1 '11 at 17:54
    
You've succeeded in making me very hungry. –  keithjgrant Mar 2 '11 at 17:54
    
@keithjgrant: Funny how people vary. I've always found talking about food, reading menus, etc, can substitute for eating for awhile at least - a placebo and delaying tactic for the inevitable meal. Although it can make you ravenous when you stop. –  Orbling Mar 2 '11 at 18:16

there's an italian hors d'oeuvre/bread-like side dish called "farinata" that is basically made with just chickpea flour, salt, olive oil, and not much else that is very delicious. it's kind of like polenta, but not exactly the same. very very easy to make. check out google!

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Or, similar to that, but fried, are the panelle, which are typical from Palermo and delicious. –  nico Oct 1 '12 at 6:30

In addition to what Orbling said, chickpea flour (called besan in Hindi), can also be used for making cheela or puda, which are like the Western pancake.

Also in addition to the ones Orbling mentioned, Mysore pak is another sweet that can be made with besan.

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Quite often cheela is spelt chila, obviously there is no exact spelling as the alphabet is changing, same as all the translations. Some forms of dosa are made with besan are they not? I've not had mysore pak in years! All this talk of sweets is not good, I really want some jalebi now! ;-) –  Orbling Mar 1 '11 at 1:39
    
Yes, I've seen cheela spelt as chila. It's sometimes difficult to convey the exact pronunciation of Hindi words in English. –  Avinash Bhat Mar 5 '11 at 21:18

Chickpea - Garbanzo flour

I use it in many ways. Normally I start with the whole pea and run it through my Vita-mix blender, quite often along with lentils, great white northern beans. Depending on my end use I may run the batch through a sieve and rerunning coarse through the blender again.

  1. The floured bean mix I keep some ready on the shelf for soup & sauce thickener _ and flavor. It is quick to cook.
  2. When doing vegetarian meat recipes, I normally do a flouring of garbanzo, red winter wheat, etc. using about 1/2 this mix to approximately 1/2 vital. In this case I shoot for about 75-80% fine to the coarse thus introducing some texture into the completed recipe. I normally use the foil and steaming method over the boiling stock.
  3. Hummus: sprout the garbanzo s { 2 -3 days} then dry the garbanzo at a low temperature. The flour in the blender. And of course your choices of the other hummus additives. Be inventive. Note normally I skip the drying phase and just blend the sprouted garbanzos into a paste - and then refrigerate.
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1  
this is very hard to red. What has it got to do with chickpea flour as per OP. Please look at other well voted answers as a "style guide". And also please read help on formatting (question mark on top right of answer box) –  TFD Oct 1 '12 at 6:25

Nobody has mentioned socca? It's a delicious pancake from Nice, France. I first had it in Brooklyn at Pates Et Traditions where they serve it very crispy and buttery. Here is a recipe.

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You can read some special dishes which ask for chickpea flour on Wikipedia.

Here you see some dishes which are more tastier because of the chickpea flour.

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I use it to make Indian-style onion fritters. I think it's pretty commonly used in South Asian cooking, especially when things are fried.

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I sometimes use it to thicken stews or gravies. It contributes an excellent flavor.

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the best Anzac biscuits my kids and I have had were made with besan flour.

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How about tortillitas, a seafood pancake from Spain?

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I found out once, when we were experimenting with some recipes for a vegan/gluten-intolerant guest coming into the restaurant, that profiteroles may be made with 100% chickpea flour and will come out more or less identical to normal profiteroles, only slightly less puffy. I would suggest only using them for savoury applications; I have not been able to figure out a sweet accompaniment that really worked (yet).

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To make these would one simply use a standard profiterole recipe substituting chickpea flour one-to-one, or are there other changes required? –  justkt Mar 4 '11 at 15:49
    
Nope, 1:1, no changes needed. –  daniel Mar 5 '11 at 4:41

There are lot's of Persian recipes that use Chickpea flour too.
Including شیرینی نخودچی, کتلت, کوفته
I need to find out the English names, and I'll post some photos right out of our kitchen (hopefully soon).

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All good foods - those would translate to Shirini-E / Nan-E Nokhodchi (chickpea cookies), Cutlets, Kofteh (like many of the Kofteh Tabrizi balls (though I usually see these done with soya protein). –  Orbling Jan 21 '13 at 15:20

You can use it to make Sicilian panelle! They Are delicious! 1 cup Garbanzo Flour 2 cups tepid water 2 Tbs of fresh chopped parsley Pinch of Salt and Pepper Cutting board Frying pan Vegetable Oil

Combine flour, water, and a pinch of salt in a pot, mix well with an electric mixer (you will see bubbles continue mixing until all bubbles and lumps are clear). Next move pot to the stove and place on medium heat. Add the parsley and a pinch of salt and mix well. Also add a pinch of pepper as desired. Continuously stir flour/water on stove until thickened. Remove from stove, pour mix onto cutting board, spread mixture out on board and let cool. Once cooled cut into squares, about 3”x3” and about a 1/4" in thickness. Cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil, heat oil, once the oil is hot we are ready to fry the Panelle. You want each side of the Panelle to be a golden brown in color and crispy in texture. The amount of time it will take to fry depends on how hot the oil is. You don't want the oil too hot, you want to fry the Panelle slowly so that they don’t burn. You can serve the Panelle with marinara sauce for dipping, use them in a sandwich, or alone.

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