Gram Flour is a powdery substance obtained by grinding the chickpeas. It is also known as Chickpea flour, Garbanzo flour, Besan, and Beshon. It is a popular ingredient used for making sweets and savories in South East Asia, chiefly in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It has a high content of carbohydrate and protein. However, it has no gluten. Hence, it is widely used as a substitute in wheat flour recipes for gluten-intolerant people.
Chickpeas have been found to be first cultivated around 6,700 B.C. in southern France, and were also found in and around Turkey during the Neolithic Age. By the Bronze Age, they were also found to be used in Italy, Greece, Rome and Germany.
Preferred Methods of Cooking
Gram flour can be kneaded into dough or combined with water or yoghurt to form a batter. The kneaded dough can roasted, baked, grilled, steamed and fried to make a host of savory items like bhujia, gatta, farsan, roti, paratha and puri. The batter made from gram flour can also be baked, steamed, deep fried and shallow fried, to make various popular snacks like dhokla, khandvi, chilla, pakora and bhajia.
Cuisines and Popular Recipes
Gram flour is popularly used in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and some other Southeast Asian cuisines. The most popular dishes prepared are sweets like halwa, ladoo, saatu, bundiya and savories like chilla, dhokla, puri, roti, farsan, puri, kachori, bonda, pakora, papad and so on. It is also mixed with yoghurt and water and cooked as a curry for various main course dishes. It is also used in Italian cuisine to prepare farinata, in Cadiz cuisine to make tortillitas de camarones and in French cuisine to make socca.
Gram flour provides 18% and 40% and 41% of the daily requirement of carbohydrate, fiber and protein respectively. It is also a rich source of vitamin K and B-complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate; along with minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium, zinc, copper, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.
Buying and Storing
Gram flour can be purchased from grocery stores under the health food or Indian food section. It can also be ordered online or made at home. Approximately 1 lb. of Bengal Grams or chickpeas will produce 2 cups of gram flour. The dry kernels simply need to be ground in a food processor, either raw or roasted.
Gram flour is best stored in airtight containers and remains fresh for up to 3 weeks. However, refrigerating the airtight containers will extend the shelf life of gram flour up to 6 months.
Gram flour can be made from both raw as well as roasted grams which could be black grams or desi chana, green grams and white grams also known as kabuli chana.
Gram flour is extensively used as a natural scrubber and exfoliant in combination with other ingredients like, egg, turmeric, etc.
- In 1793, the grams or chickpeas were roasted and used as a substitute for roasted coffee beans in Germany.