Are you confused about the difference between gram flour and plain flour?
You’re not alone. While they may look similar, these two flours are actually quite different in terms of their nutritional value and uses in cooking.
In this article, we’ll explore the unique properties of each flour and help you understand which one is best for your needs.
So, whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, read on to discover the differences between gram flour and plain flour.
Is Gram Flour The Same As Plain Flour?
No, gram flour and plain flour are not the same. While both are used in cooking and baking, they have distinct differences in terms of their nutritional value and properties.
Plain flour is typically made from wheat that has been stripped of most of its nutrients, bleached, and then fortified with vitamins to replace what was taken out. It is a versatile flour that is commonly used in baking cakes, bread, and pastries.
On the other hand, gram flour is made by grinding chickpeas or chana dal. It is a staple in Indian and Pakistani cooking and is used in many sweet and savory dishes, including pakoras, bhajis, and biscuits. Gram flour is naturally gluten-free and high in protein, making it a popular choice for those with gluten intolerance or who are looking to increase their protein intake.
What Is Gram Flour?
Gram flour, also known as besan, is a type of flour made by grinding chickpeas or chana dal. Unlike plain flour, gram flour is not stripped of its nutrients and is not bleached. It is naturally gluten-free and high in protein, making it a popular choice for those with gluten intolerance or who are looking to increase their protein intake.
Gram flour has a distinct nutty flavor and is commonly used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine for both sweet and savory dishes. It is a key ingredient in pakoras, bhajis, and biscuits. Gram flour has a finer texture than chickpea flour, which is made from ground white chickpeas.
In terms of nutritional value, gram flour is a good source of protein, fiber, iron, and other micronutrients. It also has a lower glycemic index than plain flour, meaning it takes longer for the body to digest and can help regulate blood sugar levels.
What Is Plain Flour?
Plain flour, also known as all-purpose flour, is a type of wheat flour that has been processed to remove its bran and germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm. This process results in a flour that is less nutritious than other types of flour, but it is versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes.
Plain flour is typically bleached to give it a pure white color and then fortified with vitamins and minerals to replace some of the nutrients that were lost during processing. This makes it a good option for baking cakes, bread, and pastries, as it provides a consistent texture and structure.
However, because plain flour has been stripped of most of its nutrients, it is not as healthy as other types of flour. It is also not suitable for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, as it contains gluten.
Nutritional Differences Between Gram Flour And Plain Flour
When it comes to nutritional value, gram flour and plain flour have significant differences. While plain flour is low in nutrients and high in carbohydrates, gram flour is packed with protein, fiber, and micronutrients.
One cup of gram flour (92 grams) contains 356 calories, 21 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, and 53 grams of carbohydrates, including 10 grams of fiber. In comparison, one cup of all-purpose white flour (125 grams) contains 455 calories, 13 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 95 grams of carbohydrates, including only 3 grams of fiber. This means that gram flour has more protein and fiber than plain flour.
Moreover, gram flour is a good source of folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It is also heart-healthy as chickpeas contain soluble fiber and phytosterols that help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol. This reduction in cholesterol can protect against heart attack and stroke.
In contrast, plain flour is low in nutrients as most of its natural vitamins and minerals are removed during the refining process. Instead, it is fortified with nutrients like calcium and iron. Plain flour is also high in gluten which can trigger unpleasant symptoms for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Uses Of Gram Flour In Cooking
Gram flour is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some common uses of gram flour in cooking:
1. Pakoras and Bhajis: Gram flour is a key ingredient in making pakoras and bhajis, which are popular Indian snacks. The flour is mixed with spices, vegetables, and water to make a batter that is then deep-fried until crispy.
2. Bread and Roti: Gram flour can be used to make gluten-free bread and roti. It can be mixed with other flours like rice or tapioca flour to create a dough that can be rolled out and cooked on a griddle or in a pan.
3. Curries: Gram flour can be added to curries as a thickener or to give them a creamy texture. It can also be used to make dumplings that are added to the curry.
4. Desserts: Gram flour can be used to make sweet dishes like ladoos, which are small balls made from gram flour, sugar, and ghee. It can also be used to make besan barfi, a sweet made from gram flour, sugar, and cardamom.
5. Gluten-Free Baking: Gram flour can be used as a substitute for wheat flour in baking. It has a nutty flavor and dense texture that works well in recipes like pancakes, muffins, and cakes.
Uses Of Plain Flour In Cooking
Plain flour is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes. Here are some common uses of plain flour in cooking:
1. Baking: Plain flour is commonly used in baking cakes, bread, and pastries. It is also used as a thickener in sauces and gravies.
2. Coating: Plain flour can be used to coat meats and vegetables before frying or baking. This creates a crispy outer layer and helps to seal in the moisture.
3. Thickening: Plain flour can be used as a thickener in soups, stews, and sauces. It is added towards the end of the cooking process and helps to thicken the liquid.
4. Roux: A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour that is used to thicken sauces and gravies. Plain flour is commonly used for this purpose.
5. Dumplings: Plain flour can be used to make dumplings for stews and casseroles. The flour is mixed with water to form a dough, which is then dropped into the simmering liquid.
6. Pancakes: Plain flour is a key ingredient in pancake batter. It provides structure and helps to create a fluffy texture.
Can Gram Flour Be Substituted For Plain Flour?
Yes, gram flour can be substituted for plain flour in some recipes, but it’s important to keep in mind that they have different properties. Gram flour has a denser texture and a slightly nutty flavor compared to plain flour, which has a neutral taste and a lighter texture.
When substituting gram flour for plain flour, it’s best to use it in recipes where its denser texture won’t affect the final product. For example, gram flour can be used as a substitute in recipes for fritters, pancakes, and bread that call for plain flour. It can also be used as a thickener for sauces and soups.
However, it’s important to note that gram flour cannot be used as a 1:1 substitute for plain flour in all recipes. Gram flour is gluten-free and has different properties than wheat flour, which means it may not work well in recipes that require the elasticity and structure provided by gluten.