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Chickpea flour (Recipe: salmon tikka) {gluten-free}

Salmon tikka

Ten things I know about chickpea flour (you'll be glad to know them, too):

Chickpea flour

  1. Chickpea flour is, simply, ground up chickpeas, or garbanzos.
  2. In recipes you'll see it called besan or gram flour, ceci flour or chana flour.
  3. A nutritional powerhouse, chickpea flour is high in protein, high in fiber, and high in iron. And it's gluten-free.
  4. The Romans used chickpea flour to make a type of polenta.
  5. Modern-day cooks use chickpea flour as a thickener, as a base for batters, or mixed with water as an egg substitute. You can even use it to make hummus.
  6. It's easy to make your own chickpea flour. Rinse and drain dry chickpeas, and leave them out overnight to dry. The next day, grind them in small batches in a food processor. Pass each batch through a sieve, and return any large pieces to the processor with the next batch of chickpeas. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, or in ziploc bags in the freezer. To make toasted chickpea flour, rinse and drain dry chickpeas, and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in a 400°F oven for 15-20 minutes, then process in small batches in a food processor.
  7. If you can't find dry chickpeas or chickpea flour in your local supermarket, health food store or Indian grocery, substitute dried yellow split peas and process into flour the same way you'd treat chickpeas. Or use wheat flour; according to the Bob's Red Mill site, 7/8 cup of chickpea flour replaces one cup of wheat flour in baking, and substitutes one-to-one when used for breading or as a thickener in sauces.
  8. Store chickpea flour in the freezer; bring it to room temperature before you use it. Stored this way, it will keep for a year or more.
  9. You'll want chickpea flour on hand when you get a craving for Parsi pakoras, chickpea crackers, pithale, crispy farinata with zucchini carpaccio salad, chickpea flour curry or chickpea, chocolate and cashew cookies.
  10. And if, like me, you're a fan of Julia Child's early television shows, you surely remember her visit to the market in Nice, where she introduced America to socca, the most wonderful street snack ever -- made from chickpea flour.


Salmon tikka

Loosely adapted from Indian: A Culinary Journey of Discovery, by Mridula Baljekar, this recipe can be made with any firm-fleshed fish. The salmon stays moist from the yogurt marinade, and can be grilled or broiled. Buy the thickest fillets you can find, preferably at least one inch thick. Serves 8.


Pinch of saffron threads
1 Tbsp milk (I use skim milk)
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp garlic puree*
1 Tbsp ginger puree*
1 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp sugar (or equivalent sugar substitute)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp ground chile powder (mild or hot, to taste)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground fennel seed
2 tsp chickpea flour
1-3/4 lb salmon fillets, skinned and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving


Place the saffron and milk in a small glass measuring cup, and microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside to allow the saffron to steep.

*You can buy ginger and garlic purees (I buy garlic puree at Trader Joe's), or make your own; toss a head of garlic cloves (peeled) into a food processor with a few tablespoons of olive oil, and process to a paste-like consistency. Store ginger and garlic purees in the refrigerator for a week or two.

Put saffron in milk, yogurt, garlic and ginger purees, salt, sugar, lemon juice, chile powder, garam masala, fennel seed and chickpea flour in a large bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the fish, and toss very gently to coat the fish. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Return the fish to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the broiler. Place the oven rack 8 inches or more below the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat the pan with the olive oil. Arrange the fish pieces with a bit of space between each piece. Broil for 3-4 minutes on one side, until the fish starts to brown. Turn each piece and cook an additional 3 minutes.

If you're cooking on a grill or stovetop griddle, heat to high, then brush the grill with oil. Cook the chunks of salmon for 3-4 minutes on the first side, until the fish starts to brown; then turn the fish, and cook for 3 minutes on the second side.

Serve as part of an Indian meal, with rice.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Salmon teriyaki
Egg curry
Salmon tagine with chermoula
Chickpeas with sausage and peppers
Lemon-onion hummus

Special thanks to Bob Fishman for the use of his photo of the steaming salmon.

Salmon tikka from The Perfect Pantry #glutenfree

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Chickpea flour is definitely a pantry staple for me- I use it in a dozen different ways but managed to find a new idea here, socca.

My favorite use of besan is in vegan "omelets", a quick hearty breakfast.

I recently bought a bag of fava and chickpea flour and have been timidly experimenting with it. Thank you for some new ideas, especially socca. I loved it when I tried it in Nice.

I love chick pea flour and discovered it in the socca. I'm curious to see this recipe because I'm not sure how authentic mine is...

I had a serendipitous discovery with chick pea flour -- when making pasta I didn't have semolina, so I used half flour, half chick pea flour and it came out great -- a wonderful nutty flavor!

I've never used that kind of flour before, but I am glad you gave us that info about it. I'll get some next time I go to the store and try it out. Your salmon dish sounds and looks delicious.

The salmon looks delicious! Chickpea flour is an awesome staple in anyone's pantry, and it can be used in a lot of different ways, such as thickening a puree soup for a different dimension other than cornstarch or flour.

I do not have chickpea flour as a staple in my pantry...but now i am tempted. Never made salmon tikka before either but I do love chicken tikka!

This recipe looks yummy - I just printed it. I recently came across a recipe for chickpea crepes called "socca" in Patricia Wells' Paris Cookbook. Just chickpeas, water, olive oil and salt. Haven't tried the recipe yet, but it looks simple.

This is a very useful and informative post! I'm curious if you can make loaf breads with it.

I'm a huge fan of chickpea flour. I never thought of using it quite like this though, and I LOVE the sound of this recipe.

This is the perfect post for me, Lydia, as I've been curious about chickpea flour since being on a wheat-free regimen. Your salmon looks divine, and I will try it soon, but chickpea crackers? I'm so there!! Thank you for all of those great suggestions.

I've never tried chickpea flour, but I have some dried chickpeas in my cabinet and salmon in my freezer. Sounds like some kind of foodie karma in action!

I have been recently playing around with wheat flour substitutes and will try this. Have been playing mostly with rice flour of late. Thanks for the reminder on conversions. (It might help if I actually read the packages ;-)

I made chickpea fries, so good. Did not know they were high in iron. Good to know.

I've seen chickpea flour a hundred times, but never had any idea what to do with it. This looks amazing (we love salmon in our house) and I think I'm going to give it a go!

I DO have chickpea flour from when I made the seafood pancake. Now I can try this recipe!


Nupur, I'm new to chickpea flour, so your "omelets" are going on my list to try.

Joan, try falafel with your flour, too. You can make and freeze them.

Julia, great idea about using this in pasta!

Ben, I've only scratched the surface of what you can do with this flour. Indian cuisine has many ways to use it, and I'm going to check some of the gluten-free blogs for more ideas.

Jason, I'm planning to use this flour in some bean soup tomorrow. Thanks for the idea.

Veron, this salmon tikka is a bit lighter than the chicken tikka (which I love, too), and I think you'll like it. It was a huge hit with my friends.

Mary, you'd love the episode of The French Chef where Julia wanders through the market in Nice, eating socca right off the grill.

Nate, I don't know. But I've seen recipes for "French fries" made with chickpea flour.

Kalyn, I loved your post about making socca -- made me want to run out and buy a little cast iron skillet.

Christine, this is a great substitute for gluten-free cooking. Hope you'll give it a try.

Janel, we are definitely channeling each other today!

Carol, I hope this works for you in the recipes where you'd like to substitute for wheat.

Dawn, chickpea fries sound amazing!

Michelle, there are some great recipes on the blogs (see the links in the post, above) to get you started.

Paz, go for it. This is a really delicious recipe.

I just made pakoras with chickpea flour last night!
This looks like a great recipe.
I have always wondered, when Indian recipes say chile powder - do they mean like a cayenne or paprika? I assume they don't mean the American style chile powder blend. What are your thoughts?

Great post. I will have to bookmark your site for later reading.

This made me crave for this so bad! Love it

This is an awesome post! I learned quite a bit! Thanks for posting and for sharing!

Lydia this is a great post. The salmon looks so good.

This sounds incredible.

Natashya, that's a great question. Yes, when recipes call for chile powder, they usually mean ground chile peppers -- i.e., cayenne, or New Mexico red (mild) chile. You can substitute red pepper flakes (mild or hot) for chile powder. The American chili (with an "i") powder blend is definitely not the same thing.

Rylan, Adelina, George, Noble Pig: Thanks so much. I do hope you try this!

I have read that Indian chick pea flour (besan) and domestic like Bob's are not interchangeable. My pantry has Indian, waiting for me to use it... so what could be different -- the grind, the chickpea itself? or something else?

Off topic: recommendation of a food-related DVD series from Korea, called The Great Chef. We're getting it from Netflicks, many episodes. Set in a beautiful restaurant, lots of chopping; also trips to the sea for fish, an abalone farm, raking sea salt... and a lot of drama!

I love the idea of using chickpea flour as a thickner...gotta give it a try

Susan, I've heard that, too, but for me, Bob's is so much easier to find that I use it 1:1 in recipes that call for besan, and it seems to work. If you learn more, let me know. Could be the difference between toasted and untoasted?

Kim, it works well, and it's gluten-free!

That sounds like a great recipe. I will have to cook it tonight for my wife. I will have to let you know how she likes it.

Do you have a cookbook??

What do I do w the saffron in milk???

Rishima, add it with the yogurt! Thanks the catch -- I'm updating the recipe now.

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