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Packed full of nutrients, vegan chickpea flour is an increasingly popular, gluten-free replacement for wheat flour. It’s a versatile flour that can be used in baking as well as a thickener for soups and stews. It’s even easy to make at home with some dried chickpeas and a grinder. But why bother with the hassle, when you can buy some fantastic organic chickpea flour online at PlantX!
What is Chickpea Flour?
Chickpea flour is a wonderfully versatile flour that is becoming increasingly popular outside of traditional Indian cuisine, due to its nutritional benefits. Made from chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, chickpea flour is entirely plant-based and naturally gluten-free.
Quite literally, chickpea flour is made from ground-up dried chickpeas. There are two main types of chickpea flour and the difference comes from the kind of chickpea used in the flour. The most common type of chickpea flour is made from Desi chickpeas, which are smaller than the yellow-coloured chickpeas typically sold in cans at the supermarket. Known as Besan, this type of chickpea flour is finer and denser than its counterpart. Besan is also known as gram flour.
The other main type of chickpea flour is made from Kabuli chickpeas, the familiar yellow chickpea that we find in cans in the UK. Made in a similar fashion by grinding the dried Kabuli chickpeas to a fine powder, this type of vegan chickpea flour is coarser and fluffier than Besan.
Both types of chickpea flour have a similar taste profile. The main difference is in the way they absorb liquid. You’ll find that Besan chickpea flour requires less water than Kabuli chickpea flour to achieve a batter of similar consistency.
Health Benefits of Chickpea Flour
Aside from the gluten-free aspect of chickpea flour, there are a lot of great nutritional reasons to make the switch from wheat flour to chickpea flour. In a like-for-like comparison, vegan chickpea flour contains fewer calories, more fibre and higher protein content than wheat flour. In fact, chickpea flour has up to 3x more fibre than wheat flour. A simple switch from wheat flour to chickpea flour may help weight management, as well as help to keep the gut healthy.
Another useful benefit of consuming chickpea flour is that it’s packed full of vital nutrients, particularly folate, the natural form of folic acid. It’s thought that chickpea flour can provide more than 100% of the daily recommended allowance! In the UK, it is believed that increasing a pregnant woman’s intake of folic acid can support their baby’s growth.
Finally, chickpea flour contains fewer carbohydrates and has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than white flour. It’s believed that this contributes to slower absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and may result in a slower rise in blood sugar levels, enabling you to better manage your blood sugar levels.
As with anything, always consult your doctor before making major changes to your diet.
What are Common Food Items that use Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour is a staple in Indian cooking, often used to make delicacies such as pakora, roti and halwa. Increasingly, chickpea flour is used in other types of cuisine, and of course, in vegan cooking!
Chickpea flour has very similar properties to wheat flour and so, can be used in much the same way. Given the absence of gluten in chickpea flour, it’s more suited to flatbreads, pancakes and waffles, which don’t need to rise. However, there are ways of using chickpea flour in making bread and cakes, too.
With a neutral flavour, chickpea flour is great at absorbing the flavours from the rest of the dish and doesn’t overpower it. Other common uses for vegan chickpea flour, include as a thickener in soups and sauces, in place of the more typical cornflour or plain flour. It’s useful for dusting off vegetables or tofu when deep-frying, for a nice, crispy finish. Chickpea flour is a great binder, in place of flour, for making vegetable fritters or vegan burgers. It really is a versatile ingredient!
If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to incorporate chickpea flour into your cooking repertoire, check out our very own PlantX blogs! Check-in regularly for all our news and tips for living your best vegan life!
Top Brands to Try
Although becoming more commonplace in the UK, it can be difficult to know where to buy chickpea flour. The good news is that you can buy vegan chickpea flour online, right here from PlantX! We’ve even got a few brands you can try until you find the one that’s perfect for you.
Amisa is well-known for flavoursome foods, made from the best quality, organic and ethical ingredients, ensuring that everyone has great choices available to them, regardless of allergies or intolerances. Their Organic Chickpea Flour fulfils that promise and then some, with its superfine texture, making it perfect for batters and binders.
Delivering vegetarian food since 1977, Suma Wholefoods now boasts over 7,000 different vegetarian, natural and responsibly sourced products. Suma Wholefood’s Gram Flour is both gluten-free and soy-free.
And for some great brands of snacks made from chickpea flour, why not try:
Eat Real’s range of Hummus Chips comes in a range of great flavours, like these Hummus Chips Tomato & Basil. The main ingredients are chickpea flour and rice. They’re also free from allergens and entirely gluten-free. They make a great, handy snack on the go!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Replace Plain Flour with Chickpea Flour in Baking?
Absolutely! Chickpea flour has a lot of the same properties as plain flour but is also thought to be more filling than wheat-based flour. It also has the added benefit of being gluten-free, making it a sensible choice for people with gluten intolerance. It behaves in a similar fashion to plain flour in fried and baked foods.
Unfortunately, much of cooking isn’t an exact science and there’s a bit of divided opinion on how best to substitute chickpea flour for plain flour. The substitution ratio can range anywhere from ½ cup of chickpea flour replacing one cup of plain flour, to a 1:1 ratio. Our advice is to experiment with the substitution, and bear in mind that different types and brands of chickpea flour will behave differently from one another. Some absorb liquid better than others, meaning you may need less chickpea flour to replace the plain flour.
For breads that need to rise, chickpea flour can still be used. However, the recipe will often call for xanthan gum or guar guar to be added to it to replace the gluten.
Can I have chickpea flour if I am diabetic?
Chickpea flour is considered a suitable substitute for wheat flour for individuals managing their blood sugar levels due to conditions like diabetes. According to Diabetes.co.uk, a diet focused on restricting carbs can help people to manage their blood sugar levels.
When your body digests your food, the carb becomes sugar. So when consumed in large quantities, too much carb can lead to a blood sugar spike. By choosing a flour that has fewer carbs in it, like chickpea flour, you may manage your blood sugar levels a little more easily, and hopefully, avoid the spike.
However, you should always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
What does chickpea flour taste like?
One of the benefits of chickpea flour is that it doesn’t have a strong taste. It tends to have a mild, nutty taste, which in general, is relatively neutral.
With its neutral flavour profile, chickpea or gram flour doesn’t overshadow the other flavours in your cooking. Rather, it absorbs the flavours from the other seasonings, oils and spices. Thus, chickpea flour is great in soups and stews, and as binders in fritters, pakoras and vegan burgers.
Do chickpea flours help increase insulin?
Chickpeas, and by extension, chickpea flours have a relatively low Glycemic Index (GI). The Glycemic Index is the measure of how rapidly food breaks down into sugar. Foods on the lower end of the GI scale tend to be digested more slowly than foods on the higher end of the GI scale. By digesting the food more slowly, your body should not experience spikes in blood sugar levels or insulin.
Because of the low GI and carb content, chickpea flours are a common substitute for wheat flour, used by people living with diabetes. However, you should always consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.