Also known as gram, besan, cici, chickpea or chana flour, garbanzo bean flour is most commonly used in Indian cuisine but is also part of Middle Eastern and French provençal cooking. Made from roasted or unroasted garbanzo beans, this flour has a rich, nutty flavor. Several substitutes exist, but some may work better than others, depending on the recipe.
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Make Your Own
If you'd like to use garbanzo bean flour but can't find it, make your own. Take some dried garbanzo beans and grind them in a blender or food processor until they reach the consistency of flour. If your recipe calls for toasted or roasted garbanzo bean flour, first place your beans on a baking tray and put them in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to toast for five to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and giving off a toasty smell. Check them frequently to ensure they don't burn. Grinding 2 cups of garbanzo beans will yield 1 1/2 cups of flour.
Flours for Baking
You can substitute the garbanzo bean flour in your recipe for the same amount of all-purpose flour, as long as you're not making a gluten-free recipe. All-purpose flour doesn't have the same complex, nutty taste as garbanzo bean flour, so the flavor of the finished dish may be significantly different. Spelt flour is also good for baking as it has a low gluten content -- though enough that you shouldn't eat it if you're completely gluten intolerant -- which helps to bind and shape baked goods. Millet flour has a slight nutty taste that may replicate that of garbanzo bean flour. It also benefits from being gluten-free.
Different Legume Flours
For the closest flavor to garbanzo bean flour, try substituting for it with a like amount of another legume flour. Common legume flours include fava bean and lentil flours, and they're most often found in Asian grocery stores or in health food shops. Legume flours have a similar nutty flavor so will work well in a recipe where garbanzo bean flour is the star. These flours are also gluten free, so are suitable for anyone with an intolerance.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not a form of wheat -- it's actually related to the rhubarb -- so this is another option for those who avoid wheat or gluten. It has a strong, nutty flavor, not unlike garbanzo bean flour. It can be slightly bitter, so if you're replacing a large amount of garbanzo bean flour in a recipe, use half buckwheat flour and half all-purpose or another mild-tasting flour of your choice. Other common gluten-free flours include quinoa flour, brown rice flour and corn flour. None of these will give you the same flavor as garbanzo bean flour, but will yield similar results with your recipes.