Gram flour, otherwise known as chickpea flour, is a common ingredient used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisine. Gram flour is nutritious, gluten-free, and has a pleasant nutty flavor that enhances several dishes.
If you’re ever making a recipe that needs gram flour, like Indian onion bhaji, and cannot find it at the store, there are a few ingredients that can work well in its place.
You’ll find six of the best gram flour substitutes listed below. You’ll also find out more about gram flour, its different types, and what it tastes like.
More About Gram Flour
Also known as besan and chickpea flour, there are a few different kinds of gram flour. These are both made from different chickpea varieties.
One is kabuli chickpeas, which are the popular tan chickpeas you see in stores, and the other is desi chickpeas, which are rough and smaller in size.
Desi chickpeas are also darker in color, including brown, green, and black, based on when they were harvested.
Traditional gram flour is made from brown desi chickpeas. These also go by the name kala chana, or Bengal chickpeas. The flour is made by separating the hulls and dried chickpeas, then splitting the seed inside.
Different Types Of Chickpea Flour
One type of chickpea flour is made by processing split desi chickpeas into a fine powder. The other is made by processing dried kabuli chickpeas into flour.
These two types of flour are comparable, but they aren’t the same.
Besan, or gram flour, is made from desi chickpeas. This is denser and fiend in consistency.
Chickpea flour made from regular garbanzo beans is soft, fluffier, and coarser.
Both of these taste similar, but besan won’t need as much liquid to create a batter with similar thickness.
The recipe you’re using should state whether you need gram flour, known as besan, or regular chickpea flour.
You can also look at a product’s packaging to find out which type of flour it is. They may state whether their product was made with garbanzo beans or desi chickpeas.
How Does Gram Flour Taste?
As is the case with other types of flour, gram flour has a neutral taste. Recipes made with it will get their flavor from seasonings, oils, and other ingredients added to it, instead of the gram flour itself.
If you ever tasted gram flour right out of the bag, it would have a dry consistency with a bland, balanced taste.
Ways Of Using Gram Flour
Gram flour can be used to help ingredients bind together in certain recipes, like veggie burgers and fritters. It also acts as a thickening agent, making stews, soups, and sauces thicker in consistency.
Gram flour also works well when making batter-based food, like waffles and pancakes, as well as when preparing batter for deep-frying recipes.
As it’s gluten-free, gram flour can be mixed with other gluten-free flour to make muffins, cookies, and bread.
The Best Gram Flour Substitutes
Now that you know some more about gram flour, here are the best ingredients to use in its place.
1. Cassava Flour
Cassava flour is another gluten-free type of flour, just like gram flour. It has a taste that is comparable to chickpeas. This is nutty and not particularly strong, though you may notice its fragrance when making certain recipes.
Cassava pone is an example. This traditional Caribbean meal is a popular cassava flour recipe that has a noticeable aroma. The flour also works well when making brownies, bread, and muffins.
If you do use cassava flour to make bread, it’s best to mix it with gluten-containing flour, like whole wheat. Cassava doesn’t contain gluten, so it won’t be able to rise and create thick, dense bread pieces.
2. Oat Flour
Oat flour is gluten-free and readily available from most grocery stores. It has a light and slightly sweet taste that works well in baking recipes, like muffins or brownies.
It may give your dishes a nutty flavor, but if you want a neutral substitute, it’s best to go for another alternative on this list.
Oat flour is also a nice thickening agent, as it helps thicken up stews, soups, and sauces.
You can use oat flour in place of gram flour in a 1:1 ratio. For instance, a single cup of gram flour can be swapped with a cup of oat flour.
3. Whole Wheat Flour
If you don’t need gluten-free flour, whole wheat flour is another ingredient that works well in place of gram flour.
Whole wheat flour has a grainier consistency and balanced flavor compared to gram flour. It’s slightly rougher too, making it ideal for making muffins, cookies, and bread.
If you are making a savory recipe, you may need to add some more herbs and spices to your dish. This will make up for the lack of taste that comes with using whole wheat flour.
You can use whole wheat flour to substitute for gram flour in a 1:1 proportion.
4. Almond Flour
This is a common low-carb substitute for regular flour. Almond flour is often used by people concerned with reducing their carbohydrate intake, but it can also work in place of gram flour.
Almond flour is typically made by processing skinned almonds. Some products do have their skins left on, but this is known as almond meal instead of flour.
Almond meal is readily available, with a general neutral fragrance and sweet, nutty taste. It performs well as a binding ingredient, helping meatballs, burgers, and sausages stick together.
Almond flour is relatively healthy, but as it has a sweet undertone, it’s best saved for sweet dishes.
If you want to use it to make baked goods, mix almond flour with another flour beforehand. This will reduce the batter’s density so it rises easily.
You can use almond flour in place of gram flour in a 1:1 ratio, but you may need to experiment with the measurements to achieve the best result.
5. Millet Flour
Millet flour is incredibly nutritious. It gives baking recipes, as well as Indian ones, like paratha or roti, a pleasant consistency.
Millet flour works well in place of chickpea flour, but it’s also a nice gluten-free flour substitute.
Millet flour is a little sweeter compared to gram flour, so you may need to change the sugar in your dish when you use it.
Millet flour can be substituted for gram flour in a 1:1 ratio. However, if you are using it to bake batter-based recipes, it’s best to mix it with a wheat or rice type of flour.
6. Spelt Flour
Spelt flour isn’t very popular, but it’s one of the best gram flour substitutes on this list.
Spelt flour is sourced from spelt grains. The flour has a light, slightly nutty aroma that won’t overpower the ingredients in baking recipes.
It’s also a healthy gram flour alternative that works well in brownie, cookie, and granola bar recipes. However, it’s not the best ingredient for dishes that need flour to rise, like cake or bread.
Nevertheless, if you want to use spelt flour in these recipes, you can mix it with gluten-containing flour, like wheat flour. This will help the resulting product achieve a fluffier texture.
You can buy spelt flour in bigger grocery stores, but if you’re struggling to find it, search online.
If you are baking, use ¼ cup less spelt flour than you would gram flour. Remember that it is denser than gram flour, so it’s best to sift it before baking with it.
The Bottom Line
Before you settle on a gram flour substitute, think about the taste, consistency, and color of your options.
Gram flour is gluten-free, so if you need to avoid gluten, use another gluten-free substitute, like oat or millet flour.
Gram flour is also made from chickpeas, giving it a yellow color and nutty flavor. If you want the same factors in your substitute, almond flour can give baking recipes a light yellow hue and nutty flavor.
If you have enough time, try a few of these gram flour substitutes out and see which ones work best in your recipe.
We hope you find the best gram flour substitute to use at home!
The 6 Best Substitutes For Gram FlourCourse: Substitutes
Gram flour is often needed in Indian recipes, but if you can’t find it at the grocery store, try some of these gram flour substitutes in its place!
Whole Wheat Flour
- Decide on what substitute you need
- Pick a substitute from the list above
- Read what you need to substitute with
- Create the recipe and enjoy
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