With its nutty aroma and protein punch, garbanzo bean flour has become a go-to staple for breading, cooking and baking. As a gluten-free flour, it is often used in combination with other flours to make gluten-free baked goods. If in the middle of a recipe you find yourself out of this ingredient, consider the function of the flour when looking for a substitute.
As a Flour Component
Gluten-free recipes for baked goods rely on a blend of flours, because not all gluten-free flours behave the same way. With its heaviness and pronounced flavor, garbanzo bean flour should not make up more than 25 percent of the total flour in a recipe for bread leavened with yeast or sourdough. To substitute for the portion of flour calling for garbanzo bean flour, you can use whole wheat flour cup for cup, because both flours are considered heavy. For a high-protein, gluten-free alternative, try soy flour, buckwheat flour or millet flour, or a nut flour such as hazelnut or almond meal. For best results, base your replacement amount on weight, not volume.
As a Thickener or Breading
Cooks in India have long relied on garbanzo bean flour -- made from ground chickpeas -- to thicken soupy stews and gravies. For a thickener substitute for garbanzo bean flour, try cornstarch or arrowroot. Both thickeners are gluten-free and have a neutral taste, with arrowroot being the easiest to digest. As when using garbanzo bean flour, blend your cornstarch or arrowroot with a liquid first before adding to your soup, sauce or gravy. Vigilant stirring will prevent lumps. Substitute an equal amount of cornstarch for the garbanzo bean flour, and slightly less arrowroot, about a teaspoon less per tablespoon of starch. As a breading for potatoes, vegetables or meat, try substituting in equal measures with cornmeal, buckwheat or all-purpose flour.
Substituting with Chana Flour
Garbanzo bean flour made from chickpeas that have not been roasted is known as besan or chana flour, and either of these can be substituted in equal measure for garbanzo bean flour. The taste is less rich and toasty, but the protein content and behavior of the flour will be the same whether used for baking, thickening or as a breading. You can also roast the chana flour yourself by stirring it in a cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat for two to three minutes, or until it turns a medium brown.
Making Your Own Flour
To make your own garbanzo bean flour from dried chickpeas, toast them in a low-temperature oven and process in a coffee grinder, food mill or food processor until finely ground. Chickpeas that have been split and look like yellow peas are sold in specialty stores under the name chana dal. You can make flour from lightly toasted chana dal, or from toasted yellow split peas that can be substituted in equal measure for garbanzo bean flour.
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For more than 10 years, Carol Butler has run a small, off-grid furniture business with her husband and is a regular contributor to the Edible community of magazines. As staff writer for RichLife Advisors, she covers financial planning and other industry-related topics. She holds a B.F.A. in theater arts.