Chickpeas are highly nutritious and can be used for many things. You can enjoy them in baked goods, soups and stews, on top of salads, in wraps, or blended into a rich and creamy hummus. The uses don’t end there, especially once you include chickpea flour in the mix.
Chickpea flour is an amazing ingredient. It’s versatile, full of good nutrition (rather than empty calories) and super tasty. What’s not to love? So, in this post, we’re talking chickpea flour. What it is, how to use it and how to make your own. Don’t panic! It’s super easy and I’m going to walk you through it. Let’s get started.
What Is Chickpea Flour?
Chickpea flour, also sometimes referred to as gram flour or besan, is a highly nutritious flour made from chickpeas. It’s high in fibre (which we all need more of) and protein, as well as other nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and vitamin B-6. It’s also naturally gluten-free, so a great alternative for those who cannot tolerate gluten.
What Can It Be Used For?
Chickpea flour is a super versatile ingredient that can be used in a number of ways:
Thickening – It works well as a thickener in soups or sauces.
Binding – Chickpea flour is a dense flour that works well as a binder in baked goods and other recipes.
Baking – You can swap in up to 25% of the flour amount in chickpea flour to increase the nutrition without changing the texture drastically.
Coating – Mixed with a little water, it works well as a coating or breading.
Crepes or wraps – Mixed with water and cooked on a skillet, you can use it to make crepes and wraps.
Eggless omelettes – Mix with water or non-dairy milk and some chopped veggies and spices to make a delicious egg-free omelette.
These are just a few ideas to spark your creativity. There are so many ways to use this versatile ingredient.
Why Make Your Own?
It’s true, you can buy chickpea flour pre-milled. That’s a perfectly acceptable option. However, making your own allows for more flexibility. I started making my own when I ran out one day, and all I had on-hand were dry chickpeas. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. So, making your own allows you to have it exactly when you need it.
It’s also cheaper to make your own. I can generally find chickpeas for about a dollar per pound, whereas chickpea flour (in my area) tends to run about $3-$4 per pound. It doesn’t take long to make, so making your own is a great way to save a little money.
When you make your own it’s also fresher. This freshness means it will taste better and last longer for you. It’s hard to tell how long the store-bought versions have already sat on the shelf so you could be losing a substantial amount of the shelf-life.
What You’ll Need
This is a pretty simple process that requires only a few common kitchen tools.
Dry (uncooked) chickpeas
Blender or food processor
Fine mesh strainer
Airtight container – for storage
Optional (if you want to toast your flour)
Non-stick pan or skillet
Making Chickpea Flour
Luckily, chickpea flour is super easy to make.
Step 1: Measure out the amount of dry (uncooked) chickpeas you want to use. Keep in mind that you’ll end up with a little less flour than the amount of chickpeas you started with.
Step 2: Pick through the dry chickpeas and remove any that are discoloured or really shrivelled looking.
Step 3: Pour your dried chickpeas into a high-speed blender or food processor and place the lid on firmly. You don’t want flour flying everywhere. You’ll want to do this in batches. I would suggest no more than 2 cups at a time, but you can gauge based on the size and capacity of the appliance you are using.
Step 4: Blend or pulse until processed into a fine flour. The time it takes will depend on your machine. I used a Blendtec blender and had a nice fine flour in a minute or two. If you don’t have a Blendtec or Vitamix, no worries, you can still make a nice fine flour, it just may take a little longer to get the texture you want.
Step 5: Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl, and pour your freshly milled four into it. Tap the side of the strainer gently to strain the flour into the bowl. You may notice some larger chunks leftover. You can either re-blend those in the next batch, blend them in a spice or coffee grinder, or just discard them.
Step 6 (optional): You can toast the chickpea flour for deeper flavour. Some people find raw chickpea flour to be slightly bitter, and toasting remedies this. To toast it, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Pour your chickpea flour into the pan and keep it moving with a spatula. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. It should only take about 5 minutes for the flour to begin to brown, at this point, remove it from the heat and continue stirring around the pan for another minute or so (as the pan cools) to prevent burning.
Voila! You now have some fresh and delicious homemade chickpea flour to use.
For best results, store your chickpea flour in an airtight container. You don’t have to be fancy about this. Mason jars work wonderfully for dry goods. It should last up to 6 months in your pantry. You can also pop it in the freezer for a longer shelf life.
- dry chickpeas, uncooked
- Measure out the amount of chickpeas you want to use and pick through them to remove any discoloured or really shrivelled pieces.
- Pour the chickpeas into a food processor or high-speed blender and make sure the lid is firmly in place. (If using a food processor, cover the spout opening).
- For large amounts, do this in batches to produce the best results.
- Blend or pulse for 1-2 minutes until you have a fine flour consistency.
- Some machines may take longer than others.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl.
- Pour the contents of the blender into the fine mesh strainer and gently tap the side of the strainer to let the flour sift through into the bowl.
- If there are larger chunks leftover, you can add them back to the blender and pulse again, or use a spice or coffee grinder.
- To toast the chickpea flour, heat a non-stick pan over medium-low heat.
- Add the chickpea flour to the pan and keep it moving around the pan for about 5 minutes, until it begins to brown.
- Remove the pan from heat, but keep moving the flour around for a minute or two while the pan cools (to prevent burning).
- Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container.
This should stay fresh in your pantry for about 6 months.
Store it in your freezer for a longer shelf life.
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Feature image: Image by Susana Martins from Pixabay