Explore ideas for gram flour substitutes and learn what it is used to make. Gram flour is used in Indian cooking and is a great ingredient for gluten-free cooking.
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Gram flour, also known as chickpea flour or besan, is a type of flour made from ground chickpeas. It is commonly used in Indian cuisine and is a staple ingredient in many dishes such as curries, fritters, and bread. Gram flour has a slightly nutty taste and a dense, grainy texture. It is a good source of protein and is often used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour in baking.
- In English, besan flour is gram flour.
- Besan is made of ground Bengal gram or chana dal. Chana dal is skinned, split Bengal gram.
- You can find besan flour at any local Indian store. Or online such as here.
- Gluten-free flour
I wanted to give some perspective from my experience cooking Indian food. Besan is used in both sweet and savory dishes in Indian cuisine.
Particularly, I’d like to note some examples of recipes in which gram flour substitutes can be used in a pinch.
I always say there is no perfect substitute for any ingredient, but I think we can explore some instances when you are in a pinch and looking for a quick alternative.
The best substitute for gram flour (besan flour) is dependent on what you are making.
Other substitute ideas for Indian cooking that may be handy in a pinch include Paneer Substitute, Mango Powder Substitute, Cardamom Substitute, Garam Masala Substitute, Ghee Substitute, and Kashmiri Chili Powder Substitute.
Gram Flour Vs Chickpea Flour
Gram flour is the flour of chana dal or split brown chickpeas, desi chickpeas
Chickpea flour is the flour of garbanzo beans or white chickpeas
Different types of chickpeas
Both chickpeas and Bengal gram are varieties of legumes that are members of the Fabaceae family.
They both have a nutty flavor and a dense, gritty texture, and they are similar in appearance.
There are some distinctions between the two, though.
Bengal gram usually referred to as chana dal, is a little, yellow lentil that’s popular in Pakistani and Indian cooking.
It is a common addition to curries, soups, and stews as well as a crucial component of foods like chana masala and dal.
Bengal gram has a stronger texture and a somewhat sweeter flavor than chickpeas
Garbanzo beans, often known as chickpeas, are typically lighter in color and larger and rounder than Bengal Grams.
Overall, while both Bengal gram and chickpeas are similar, they have some key differences in terms of taste, texture, and use in cuisine.
What makes a good gram flour substitute?
The best substitutes include many or most of the characteristics of besan:
- Nutty, earthy flavor
- High in protein and fiber
- Supports Gluten-free diet
- Low in fat
- Dense texture
- Can be used as a natural thickening agent
- Commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine
Making Gram Flour
If you have chana dal at home the good news is you can make your own besan at home!
Chana dal is ground into a fine powder using a food processor, spice grinder or grain mill.
Then use a fine-mesh sieve or a flour sifter to remove any large pieces or clumps.
Make sure to store the flour in an airtight container until you are ready to use it.
Gram Flour Substitute Ideas
Below are ideas of substitutes for gram flour for common Indian dishes followed by a list of different types of flours you can explore.
Note, here are instances in which there are no good substitutes for gram flour. Indian sweets are one of those instances. Mohanthal, besan ladoo, or besan barfi would not be the same without besan flour (gram flour).
Works better for savory dishes.
The most common use for gram flour when frying is to make pakoras (fritters). Methi Na Gota (Fenugreek Fritters) uses besan.
Rice flour or all-purpose flour can work in these instances. While it will not be the same taste, it can work to give you crisp pakora.
- Savory crepe – Besan chillas are VERY popular. The best way I can describe them is as a savory crepe/pancake. There are a variety of flours that can be used to substitute gram flour here. I love making pudlas (chillas) out of moong bean flour to make Moong Dal Pudla. So, moong flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, oat flour, sorghum any of these can work as a great alternative.
- Stuffed Okra (Bharwa Bhindi) – A deliciously spiced gram flour is stuffed into okras. Here, you could use oat flour or really any flour as a substitute.
Khaman or Sev Khamani – The main ingredient in khaman is besan flour. They are steamed dumplings. For this specific recipe, there is no substitute for besan. However, you can make other types of steamed dhokla such as moong dal dhokla.
In small quantities, for example in Paneer Tikka, besan can be substituted by something like rice flour or all-purpose flour.
These flours are all gluten-free and can be used in place of gram flour in a variety of dishes and baked goods. Some of these flours may have slightly different flavors and textures, so you may need to experiment to find the one that works best for your recipe.
The following flours are all gluten-free and can be used in place of gram flour in a variety of dishes and baked goods. Some of these flours may have slightly different flavors and textures, so you may need to experiment to find the one that works best for your recipe.
- Lentil Flour
- Fava bean flour
- Garbanzo bean flour
- Rice flour
- Soybean flour
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Oat flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Quinoa flour
- Brown rice flour
- Sorghum flour
- Tapioca flour
- Arrowroot flour
- Cassava flour
- Amaranth flour
- Teff flour
- Millet flour
- Pea flour
- Lentil flour
- Chia seed flour
- Sesame seed flour
The best substitute for gram flour (besan flour) is dependent on what you are making – some gluten-free ideas include lentil flour, rice flour, oat flour, and sorghum flour. If you don’t need gluten-free flour then all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour may work.
Gram Flour Substitute
- 1 Bowl
- 1 serving lentil flour OR
- 1 serving rice flour OR
- 1 serving oat flour OR
- 1 serving garbanzo bean flour OR
- 1 serving sorghum flour
- Substitute your choice of ingredient to use 1:1 in the place of gram flour when you are in a pinch. See post for details. Best substitute is dependent on the dish you are making.