Chickpea flour and white flour are among the many flour options that you might see on grocery store shelves. Despite the fact that both have the word flour in the name, they are not always interchangeable. You can sometimes use one in place of the other but you may need to make adjustments. To understand more about these two flours, take a look at the ways that chickpea flour differs from wheat flour and vice versa in this SPICEography Showdown.
How does chickpea flour differ from white flour?
Most of the differences between chickpea flour and white flour have to do with health and nutrition. The fact that chickpea flour is made from a legume rather than a grain means that it is suitable for people with grain allergies whereas white flour is not since it is made from grain.
The chickpeas used to make chickpea flour are full of nutrients, which means that chickpea flour tends to be more nutrient-dense than most flours including white flour. Chickpea flour has more fiber, potassium, and folate than white flour.
Along with the nutrients that both flours have, chickpea flour has a vast variety of other nutrients that you will not find in white flour. The wheat used to make white flour has been highly refined. The processing that it undergoes to make it into white flour removes many of the grain’s natural vitamins and minerals. Instead of those nutrients, white flour is fortified with nutrients like calcium and iron.
Chickpea flour is a gluten-free flour while white flour contains a significant amount of gluten. For people with celiac disease or who have other conditions that make them gluten intolerant, gluten can trigger unpleasant symptoms. As a result, chickpea flour has become a popular flour option for people with those conditions.
Gluten does provide some benefits such as the ability to bind. Chickpea flour does provide more binding power than other gluten-free flours but it does not do it as well as white flour. Your chickpea flour baked goods will not have the fluffy and chewy texture that you would get from white flour.
If your recipe calls for one, can you use the other?
You can use chickpea flour as a wheat flour replacement but you will get better results if you replace no more than 25 percent of the flour in a recipe with it. If you want to use only chickpea flour in a dish, you would be better off using a recipe formulated specifically for chickpea flour.
While you can use chickpea flour in some sweet dishes, its mild bean flavor will work best in savory applications. You can use white flour in place of chickpea flour but you would probably be better off using it as a partial replacement. Alternatively, you may want to opt for a recipe that uses only white flour.
When should you use chickpea flour and when should you use white flour?
Chickpea flour is a staple ingredient in numerous dishes from the Middle East and India. If you want to make authentic-tasting dishes from those cultures, you will need to make or buy chickpea flour. It is essential for besan ke ladoo and other Indian favorites and you can also use it to make hummus and falafel.
When it comes to European cuisine, use chickpea flour to make the French chickpea fritter known as panisse. Chickpea flour is great for gluten-free versions of baked goods traditionally made with white flour.
White flour is essential for most classic recipes for baked goods. It is also a common thickener and is widely used to make the breading for fried foods. Use it when a fine texture and neutral flavor are essential to a recipe.