At less than a dollar per can, dietitians name chickpeas as one of the best plant-based proteins you can add to your pantry. Like cauliflower, chickpeas are one of the chameleons of the healthy eating world that you can sneak into just about, well, anything. And chickpea flour, which is made by grinding the legume into a coarse powder, is a nutrient-dense, gluten-free option for baking pizza crusts, breads, tortillas, and other dishes that span across global cuisines.
"Chickpea flour is a staple of Indian cooking," says Sujan Sarkar, executive chef of BAAR BAAR in New York City. "We call it 'besan', which can mean flour made from either dried chickpeas or yellow gram lentils. It's a high-protein and gluten-free ingredient that we use frequently, and its slightly nutty flavor lends itself well to both sweet and savory dishes." On the BAAR BAAR menu, you'll spot it in everything from Cauliflower Koliwada with rice hollandaise to sweet and sour yogurt mousse. Apart from its wonderful, hearty flavor, the flour also packs the same nutritional benefits as plain old chickpeas. (Score!)
"Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are part of the legume family," said You Versus Food host and registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD."They have been associated with a ton of health bean-ifits like supporting weight management, aiding in digestion, and reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. They are also high in protein and can serve as a star player in a vegetarian or vegan diet." Just a half cup of chickpeas contains seven grams of protein and over six grams of fiber, making them a small-but-mighty force to be reckoned with in the nutrition world.
All these nutritional wins (and chickpea flour's versatility and taste) fuel Sarkar and New York Times bestselling cookbook author Danielle Walker's passion for the flour. With their recipes, hopefully you'll soon consider it just as much of a pantry staple as the plain-old beans. Below, Sarkar offers up a chickpea flour recipe that will take you literally five minutes, while Walker comes in with two, mouth-watering ways to use your newfound favorite gluten-free ingredient.
Chef Sarkar's instructions for how to make chickpea flour form scratch
Yields about two cups of chickpea flour
- 2 cups chickpeas
- Roast the chickpeas in a 400°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, and let them cool completely.
- Add the chickpeas to a food processor or blender and process until pulverized and smooth.
- Run through a sieve to remove any large particles. Return these large particles back to the blender and process it again. You may need to repeat this step to get all pieces finely ground.
- Use the fresh flour immediately or store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place for up to 4 to 6 weeks.
Walker's homemade chickpea flour onion rings
If you want, you can bake these onion rings instead of frying them.
- 4 cups palm shortening, avocado oil, or lard, plus more as needed, for frying
- 2 cups garbanzo bean flour
- 3/4 cup arrowroot powder
- Fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons grain-free baking powder
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups sparkling water
- 3 large sweet onions, cut into 1/2-inch rings
- Ketchup for serving
- Heat the palm shortening in a deep pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F, then adjust the heat as needed to maintain a constant temperature. The shortening should be at least 2 inches deep. Add more palm shortening if necessary.
- In a wide, shallow dish, whisk together the garbanzo bean flour, arrowroot, 2 teaspoons of salt, and baking powder. Add the eggs and sparkling water and stir until just combined and smooth. The batter should be a bit thicker than pancake batter.
- Dip an onion ring into batter, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then carefully lower the ring into the hot shortening; beware of splattering. Repeat with additional rings, until the pot is full but not crowded. Fry the onion rings for about 2 minutes, turning each one occasionally with a mesh skimmer, until golden and crispy. Using the skimmer or a slotted spoon, transfer the onion rings to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve immediately with a side of ketchup for dipping.
Walker's chickpea flour chicken nuggets
Yields 20 nuggets. If desired, you can bake rather than pan-fry the nuggets.
- 2 cups organic palm shortening
- 1/2 pound ground dark meat chicken (preferably organic and if possible pastured)
- 1/2 pound ground white meat chicken
- 2 Tbsp unsalted chicken stock
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground mustard
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (or chickpea flour)
- 3 Tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (grain-free)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup sparkling water
Instructions for frying
- Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. Bring the oil to 350°F then reduce the heat on the stove to keep a constant temperature. The oil should be about two inches high in the pot.
- Combine the chicken, chicken stock, 3/4 teaspoon salt, ground mustard, and garlic powder in a bowl.
- In a shallow and wide dish, whisk together the bean flour, arrowroot, 1/2 teaspoon salt and baking powder. Add the egg and sparkling water and stir until just combined and smooth.
- Roll small portions of the meat mixture between your palms to create a nugget shape, then dip them in the batter. Shake off the excess batter and place them in the hot oil, working in batches of six to eight nuggets. Cook on each side 3 to 4 minutes, until the batter has puffed up and is golden brown.
- Remove the nuggets with a mesh skimmer and place them on a rack lined with a paper towel to cool. Continue working in batches until you have finished the meat and batter.
Alternate instructions for baking
- After dipping the chicken in the batter and shaking off the excess liquid, place them on a baking sheet and bake for 16 minutes at 400°F.
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