Burmese Chickpea Tofu

Burmese Chickpea Tofu 1

I can probably count the number of times I’ve eaten tofu in the past couple years on one hand.  Sure, there are a lot of recipes that I love that use the stuff (like  this one and this one), but I just never really jumped on the soy bandwagon.

So what’s a girl to do when she wants a neutral vegan protein base for recipes but  eschews soy because of the potential health risks?  Thankfully the good people of Burma have the answer: chickpea tofu.

Chickpea Flour

This dish reminded me of the old math question: how many combinations can you make with __ numbers?   Because with just chickpea flour, water and salt you could either end up with French Socca crepes, or this Burmese tofu.  And probably plenty of other dishes currently unknown to me.

Use this in place of regular tofu in your favorite vegan or vegatarian recipe, or wait it out for a couple days for a recipe for a punchy Burmese tofu salad that’s packed with plenty of fresh herbs and a kicky garlic, ginger and sesame dressing.  It’s worth the wait, I promise.

Burmese Chickpea Tofu


Burmese Chickpea Tofu

Yield: about 2-1/2 pounds

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes`

Total Time: 2 hours


* 2 cups chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)

* 6 cups water, divided


Combine the chickpea flour, 2 cups of water, salt, and turmeric, if using, in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth, pressing the mixture through a sieve, if necessary, to remove any lumps.

Grease one 9-inch by 13 inch or two 8-inch by 8-inch baking dishes with a neutral oil.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed wide, shallow pot. Turn heat to medium-high. Give the chickpea mixture a stir to ensure that the mixture hasn't separated. While stirring the water with a wooden spoon, slowly and carefully pour the chickpea flour mixture into the simmering water.

Lower the heat to medium-low, stirring continuously, until the mixture has thickened and is nice and glossy, about five minutes. Pour immediately into the prepared baking dish(es).

Let cool to room temperature and then set in the fridge for at least one hour. The longer it sits, the more water will drain out of the tofu and the firmer it will get.

Adapted from The Burmese Kitchen: Recipes from the Golden Land by Copeland Marks and Aung Thien and Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid

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65 Responses to “Burmese Chickpea Tofu”

  1. #
    Eileen — March 26, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I’ve never heard of using chickpea flour in quite this way before! Super interesting.


    • Cate — March 26th, 2013 @ 9:49 am

      I know, right? Now I’m wondering what it would taste like with other bean flours :)


  2. #
    Becky Gregory — March 26, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    This is amazing!! I’m also unsure about eating tofu due to the health reasons but I have been wanting something else to eat just when I fancy a “bulked up” stirfry and Im bored of beans! Can’t wait to try this thank you so much for sharing.


    • Cate — March 27th, 2013 @ 7:31 am

      Hope you like it Becky! :)


  3. #
    Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) — March 30, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Such an awesome idea! I never once thought about making non-soy tofu… but this version looks even more appetizing!


    • Cate — March 30th, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

      Thanks Allison!


  4. #
    Shoba Shrinivasan — March 31, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Cate,

    Where did you get the chickpea flour? Do you think cooking the garbanzo and THEN baking it after pureeing it woulld help? Would be a great source f instant protein!



    • Cate — March 31st, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

      Hi Shobha- I didn’t feel like going to the health food store (where I’ve seen chickpea flour before), so I just blended some dried chickpeas in my Vitamix. It worked well, although I did sift it to make sure any larger bits were removed.

      I’m not actually sure whether pureeing cooked chickpeas would work to make the tofu, but please let me know if you try it!


  5. #
    Sadie — April 2, 2013 at 6:55 am

    What a great idea! I try to avoid soy for health reasons but love tofu, so this is a must try for me. Thanks for sharing. I’m new to a gluten-free diet and love what I’ve seen of your blog.


    • Cate — April 2nd, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

      Thanks so much Sadie! Hope the blog is helpful to you as you transition over to the gluten-free lifestyle :)


  6. #
    Lil — April 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Glad to see this recipe, but I’m confused over people who are not allergic to soy and are not experiencing any health issues (i.e. blood clots) where soy would be a problem continuing to avoid soy. The original studies that suggested it might be a problem (and it only ever suggested it) are old and had flawed data and flawed correlations. Newer studies with better data say 3-4 servings per day are healthy and good for you. Now, if you’re worried about non-organic tofu, that’s another issue. But organic tofu will be free of the solvents used in conventional tofu. Just saying, if you don’t have blood clot issues or allergies, go ahead and indulge in soy!


    • Cate — April 10th, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

      Honestly there’s probably not a single food out there which is good for everybody. Even broccoli (is there a more virtuous vegetable out there?) might not be good for somebody with thyroid issues. So I’d be hesitant to make a blanket statement that soy is either healthy or unhealthy. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective soy is cooling, so somebody who is “cold” might not want to consume a lot of it. On the other hand, somebody who is “hot” might find it beneficial.

      As with any food, I think people should pay attention to how it makes them feel. So-called experts go back and forth all the time on just about everything, so I tend to not put too much stock into what they say in various studies :) But I certainly appreciate the comment Lil!


      • Sarah — April 19th, 2013 @ 2:06 am

        I think what Lil was referring to was that in your post you referred to the “potential health risks”, which would relate more to her examples than what you just mentioned….if that makes any sense. What were the potential health risks you were referring to? The ones you mention in your comment seem less like potential health risks and more like eating for your constitution (cooling vs. warming) or medical issues (thyroid).

    • Bitter and Murky — July 5th, 2013 @ 4:48 am

      So are you saying wait till you actually DEVELOP blood clots or allergies to then stop eating tofu?

      If any health issues might be associated with a certain product and someone wants to avoid it, more power to them. No one NEEDS to eat tofu, it is a personal choice that can be based on many different reasons.

      Tofu is a processed food, not a natural food. It is not necessary in the diet and all processed foods should be avoided as much as possible.

      Soy is in everything now. Soy is too controversial to take it lightly and make any blanket statements. The soy consumed in the US is way different from the soy consumed in Asian countries, where some benefits might have been reported. They only use soy as a condiment, not the main part of the meal and they don’t consume processed soy (tofurkey, hot dogs, nuggets, etc), There is no way to compare or to say that any of their benefits apply to our diet. It’s two completely different things.


  7. #
    KeepOurFreedoms — April 15, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I’ve heard menion Burmese Tofu, but never tried finding a recipe. I’m wondering about the “gas affect” from bean tofu??


  8. #
    Amanda M. — April 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Our local Burmese restaurant has homemade chickpea tofu, which is the first I’d ever heard of it. It’s completely delicious! I’m dying to know if this tastes the same….I sense a kitchen experiment coming on.


    • Cate — April 17th, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

      You’re so lucky to have a local Burmese restaurant! I’d never tried chickpea tofu prior to making it so I’d be curious to hear how this compares :)


  9. #
    Erin — April 18, 2013 at 1:04 am

    How long will this last in the fridge? Can it be frozen?


    • Cate — April 18th, 2013 @ 7:36 am

      It disappeared pretty quickly around here, so I’m not 100% sure. My instinct would be that it would keep for about a week in the fridge. I didn’t try freezing it either. If you do try freezing it definitely let me know how it goes/thaws!


  10. #
    fran — May 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    HI, this sounds interesting, I have besan flour which I bought at an Indian market, I think it is chickpea flour, ever heard of chickpea flour called besan?


    • Cate — May 8th, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

      Yes- absolutely! You should definitely be able to use it with this recipe.


      • fran — May 9th, 2013 @ 6:29 am

        thanks, I will use your recipe and let you know.

  11. #
    Loula — May 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Hey there,

    I just stumbled across your post this morning (Im in Germany, so 6 hours ahead of you) and found it so intriguing, I just had to make it for lunch. It was so easy and quick to make and tasted absolutely delish! Loved it! :) Somehow it was rather sweet, even though I used a herbed salt in it, so Im wondering if I can turn this into some kind of funky dessert. :)
    Thanks so much for posting this, I love it and Im sure Ill make this often again.


  12. #
    Nova — May 18, 2013 at 5:48 am

    I just gave the recipe a try.
    The chickpea mixture thickened immediately when pourd into the water…
    I guess it was still to hot? But nontheless the tofu turnd out amazing!
    I can’t wait to prepare a lot of lovely dishes with it and maybe add in some other spices next time.


  13. #
    Karin — May 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Just found you on Pinterest and I can’t wait to give this a try! As a vegan for over 20 years, I relied heavily on soy/tofu until I was diagnosed with estrogen positive breast cancer, and my oncologist said no more soy. It’s made me wonder, if one is sensitive to estrogen could soy products contribute to diseases like breast cancer. I had no risk factors and the dx came as quite a shock. Anyway, I am grateful for this alternative and really look forward to experimenting!


    • Cate — May 21st, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

      Karin- so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I have a history of breast cancer in my family and I’ve had blood clots in the past, so I’m extra cautious about estrogen/soy products. Since there are plenty of alternatives out there, I see no need to gamble with the potential risk.

      Anyways, you like the chickpea tofu and thanks so much for taking the time to comment :)


    • JJ — August 1st, 2013 @ 7:54 am

      Karin: Our best science shows soy to be protective against breast cancer of any kind (especially if eaten when young). It also helps against recurrence when added to diets after diagnosis. You can check out NutritionFacts.org for the latest info on the “body of evidence” concerning soy and other foods in regards to breast cancer. Sadly, soy (as well as vegan eating) is not a guarantee of disease prevention, just a lowering of risk.

      I, too, am sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It is so frustrating when we do all the right things and bad things still happen. Good luck!


    • Ann — September 14th, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

      I don’t want to disclaim you, but most cancer issues are more genetic than people think. Yes, the soy may have triggered your estrogen levels and caused breast cancer, but don’t overlook your families medical history. It’s highly possible that if you have breast cancer, the older women in your family might’ve got it at one point. Yes, this is coming from a vegetarian who has eaten soy based foods, and there’s nothing wrong with my estrogen and I don’t have cancer from soy. From all the hormone test they did on me, it was my testosterone that’s higher than it should be. My doctor said that hormonal issues are usually genetic, rather than brought on by diet alone.


  14. #
    KaythiK — June 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I am Burmese, and yes, I can attest that chickpea tofus are the best! It’s full of proteins, flavor, and its texture is very unique. My mom always makes me traditional tofu salad, and it tastes amazing with tamarind sauce, chili and soysauce. There is another tofu variation that my mom makes from chickpea flour. It is one of the burmese ethnic groups’ recipe. I promise it’s as flavorful as this one. I do not have the recipe for that, but I can post it here when I get the recipe from my mom. :)


  15. #
    Tess — July 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    This looks amazing and I am so grateful for this Veg’n and Gluten free protein without a ton of ingredients. So when the water drains away do you dump it? Do you store it dry or in the water like regular tofu. Thank you please reply.



    • Cate — July 14th, 2013 @ 9:35 am

      Hi Tess,
      I just let the tofu sit in the water and drained it right before using.


  16. #
    lisaveronica — July 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I just made this and it’s been sitting in my fridge for a couple of hours. I’m so excited to try it! If using this in a stir-fry, can it be “pressed dry” like normal tofu? It still seems a bit “silken” to me.



    • Cate — July 14th, 2013 @ 9:38 am

      I’ve never tried pressing it before. If you try it, please let me know how it goes!


      • lisaveronica — July 14th, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

        sadly, it did not work! the tofu kind of fell apart when I tried to get it out of the pan…maybe I should have thickened it more when cooking it?

      • Cate — July 24th, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

        Bummer. Maybe next time grease the pan extra well and cook it down a bit thicker? Good luck!

  17. #
    A Blank — September 2, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Hello! This is a gorgeous looking recipe. I do have a question, though: how does the tofu stand up to pan-frying? I can’t usually pan-fry tofu very well, and I kinda doubt that a self-croquetting food would do well. Should I just bake it?



    • Cate — September 4th, 2013 @ 3:24 am

      I’m actually not sure since I just cubed it and put it in a salad. It ~may~ end up crumbling a bit from pan-frying, but I’m sure it would still taste good! Let me know how it works out for you… and good luck!


  18. #
    East Meets West Veg — September 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Wow! Thanks for posting! I love this idea!


  19. #
    Poorna — September 28, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I am a lifelong lacto vegetarian and have been mostly dairy-free for the past few years. Unfortunately, my two daughters are soy intolerant (it’s a hormone thing), and so tofu is something i eat rarely and surreptitiously. My husband is also gluten intolerant so we don’t do most faux meat products. I was really excited to try this–so excited in fact that I think I didn’t cook it quite long enough! It’s been in the fridge a couple hours and is the consistency of pudding. Definitely not sliceable. The mixture thickened up almost instantaneously, so maybe I thought it was ‘done’ before it really was. I’m toying with the idea of putting it back in the pot and trying to thicken it up again. May be a disaster but I’ve got nothing to lose.
    Either way, still so excited about this recipe and will post back when I figure out where it went wrong.
    Thanks so much!


  20. #
    Vicki S. — October 20, 2013 at 5:01 am

    When I made this the other week and tasted it the same day, it was bitter. I ignored it for a few days in the fridge, retasted it, and it was much better. I mashed it, mixed in kala namak (Indian black salt), nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powders, turmeric, veg bacon bits, pepper, dried parsley, and some crumbled kale chips, and fried it in my electric skillet…wow! Very much like scrambled eggs, only softer. Thanks for the recipe!


  21. #
    Can garbanzo tofu be frozen? — November 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I’m trying to avoid soy as it is the worst mucus-producing food there is and i have a problem with mucus.


  22. #
    Annetta Williams — March 7, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Just made vegan meat balls using this Burmese tofu recipe. Fantastic! Have been missing my tofu for 18 months since I gave up soy for health reasons. Now I can recreate recipes we’ve been doing without! Thank you for sharing this recipe.


    • Cate — March 17th, 2014 @ 9:33 pm

      So glad that you’re able to enjoy tofu again! And thanks for the comment :)


  23. #
    Diane — April 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

    You say The longer it sits, the more water will drain out of the tofu and the firmer it will get. Where is the water draining if it’s in baking dishes?


  24. #
    Jannie — April 23, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I have made it 4 times now. FYI: I found that it doesn’t need oil spray. I poured the cooked mixture into a plain glass pan. After it finished cooling, the tofu pulled away from the sides and bottom without any sticking.

    I enjoy soy tofu, but like having the variety that this tofu offers. I would never eat soy tofu plain, but I think this stuff tastes great by itself. So, it is a nice find.

    1) I’m curious why you add the turmeric. Often people add turmeric for color. My favorite use for this stuff is as an “egg white” and so getting a whiter (rather than yellower) outcome would work better. Or did you add the turmeric for taste? Is the turmeric traditional from the Burmese perspective?

    2) Two times, the outcome had a *perfect* texture. I thought it was exactly like boiled egg white – better than soy tofu. But two other times, the outcome was grainy/mushy. I’m not aware of doing anything different, but maybe I am cooking it too much or too little some times? I’m wondering if you have any insight into this issue since I would love to make it again many times in the future and have more consistent results.

    Note, instead of using a whisk, I’ve been using the blender to mix the flour water before pouring into the boiling water. Any guesses as to whether more or less blending/whipping would result in the texture I want as a final product?

    Thanks for any thoughts you have!!!!


  25. #
    mamapasta — April 30, 2014 at 10:28 am

    actually we do the same in the south of France and we call that Panisse …..


    • Cate — October 4th, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

      Interesting! I knew you guys made socca out of chickpeas, but I had no idea you made anything like this!


  26. #
    Corrin Radd — June 26, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    We made this tonight and deep fried it and it’s pretty much the best thing ever.


    • Cate — October 4th, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

      Ha- thanks for your enthusiasm! I’ve never actually deep fried it before… now on my list of things to do :)


  27. #
    Ashley — July 6, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I tried this recipe and it came out really watery, I followed the directions but mine didn’t quite thicken like yours I stirred for 10 minutes before just pouring it into the pan. I put in in the fridge for 2 night to leech the most amount of liquid but as I kept it in the fridge it didn’t get firmer it just leeched more water and started falling apart. i tried to put some in a pan and brown in but it just melted and fell apart. I’m going to reattempt this recipe this week, any idea what I can do different?


    • Cate — October 4th, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

      Sorry for the delayed response Ashley. I’m actually not sure what went wrong, since I had no issues and it seems to have worked for most of the folks who commented. Maybe try with less water next time? Hope it finally worked for you…


  28. #
    Kyla @ Two Cups Cacao — July 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I made this the other day, it’s incredible! It tastes just like tofu, except maybe a bit better. I added a tbsp of olive oil as well, for extra flavor. I love this… I will be making it again!


    • Cate — October 4th, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

      So glad you liked it Kyla :)


  29. #
    charlene — November 23, 2014 at 7:07 am

    this looks so interesting … I’m definitely going to make it … don’t like soy tofu at all. One question, the recipe I want to use this for calls for 10oz firm tofu. Any idea how much this recipe produces? I don’t have a scale to weigh 10 oz. Thanks!


    • charlene — November 28th, 2014 @ 4:07 am

      I used this in a meatless meatloaf recipe — guessing at the amount — and it was wonderful! Easy to make. Better than tofu. Have finally found a tofu substitute that my family likes! thank you


  30. #
    Sue — December 1, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I’m new to this, so forgive me if this is a ridiculous question, but how does the water drain out if the mixture is put into a pan? Does it just separate? Thanks.


  31. #
    Janna — December 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

    This recipe is awesome! I have eliminated soy tofu from my diet because of my hypothyroidism and was missing tofu. I made a half recipe. Did some trial-and-error dishes with the resulting Burmese tofu. It’s just personal preference but I found that I didn’t like the Burmese tofu when it was heated up as it became too soft.

    However, I just made an absolutely fantastic barbecued baked tofu using the 1 week old firm tofu. It reminded me a lot of the baked tofu (WestSoy brand) that you can buy in the grocery store. Was great in a wrap with veggies, more bbq sauce, and some mayo. Only suggestion is that the baked tofu should be served cold in order to get the firmest texture. Am already plotting out a new batch so that it will be firm enough to bake by the end of the week. ;-)

    Thank you for the recipe!


  32. #
    Lisa C — February 25, 2015 at 1:59 am

    Oh my giddiness – I had no idea you could do this and I cannot wait to try it out! Thank you, chickpeas, you are so versatile! Question: do you know if this would work with other beans or is there something different about chickpeas? I can imagine a spicy black bean, an Italian-spiced cannellini bean, etc.


    • Cate — June 27th, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

      Wouldn’t hurt to try, right? :)


  33. #
    Una — May 7, 2015 at 10:04 am

    I believe I just made love. I made this this morning as the recipe stated, but added nutritional yeast. (I add nutritional yeast to everything.) it is so good. As I took in the texture I thought this is the exact texture of panna cotta. So I made it again. To a half recipe I added .25 cup cocoa powder, 1 cup sugar a replaced a half of the boiling water with coffee. Next time I will replace of it. Follow as directed and add vanilla when you take it off the heat. It isn’t cold yet. I am eating it warm. Hope some is left for dessert tonight. Thanks for the recipe.


  34. #
    Kristen — April 7, 2016 at 6:19 am

    I tried making this and it tastes great! However, it is super watery and basically dissolves when I apply any pressure to it :/ I’m not sure what I did wrong! It seems that when it warms up it just starts to… Melt? It’s weird. Any idea what might have caused this? I think I may have used too much water, there was a bit of it on top of the tofu after a day of sitting in the fridge.


  35. #
    Anthony — September 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I made this on a Monday and kept it in the fridge until Thursday. When I took it out, it had a lot of water on top of it. I poured it off but the tofu was still very liquidy. Your pictures look like it should firm up just like regular tofu – did I miss a step or do something wrong?


  36. #
    Krysten — May 2, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Thank you Cate!
    I have made this recipe three times and it worked out all three times. I put the “tofu” in tacos and I even made it with Lasagna. It works instead of the ricotta cheese. I definitely think that everyone should at least try to make this recipe at least once.


    • Cate — January 6th, 2018 @ 4:35 pm

      so glad you liked it Krysten!


  37. #
    Cindy — July 2, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Hey we just took a cooking class in Myanmar! The tofu she used was yellow spitpea flour and it held up nicely to frying. Sooo much better tasting than soy!


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