Take me to a Lebanese restaurant, and the first three words out of my mouth will be “hummus, mutabbal and tabbouleh”.
Followed closely by “falafel?” (not as in, shall we order some – but more like let’s order some).
While ta’amiyya is near and dear to my Egyptian heart, I will admit to being quite partial to traditional Lebanese falafel, which is made primarily from chickpeas as opposed to fava beans. They’re just so easy to whip up and are extremely versatile. The humble chickpea will never cease to amaze me.
Anyways, after pretty much OD’ing on regular falafel I set about re-creating it with sweet potatoes. The result made for perfectly crisp yet fluffy falafels that practically melt in your mouth. delicious atop a salad of peppery rucola, sultanas and red onion.
Makes about 16 small falafels*
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup chickpea flour (also known as gram flour or besan)
1 large sweet potato (about a cups worth), steamed or baked
1 medium red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro
1 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tsp dried ground coriander
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp salt + black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp olive or canola oil
1 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional, for a crumblier texture. GF folks, feel free to omit or replace with ground GF crackers/breadcrumbs)
Steam, bake or nuke the sweet potato in a microwave. Peel and set aside.
To a food processor**, add the onion, garlic and fresh herbs. Pulse until roughly chopped.
Add the remaining ingredients and process until combined. If you prefer a chunkier texture like me, add the chickpeas in right at the end and pulse a 3-4 times until roughly chopped and incorporated.
The mixture should be stiff and not too wet – if you’ve somehow ended up with a moist mixture add in a touch more chickpea flour or breadcrumbs.
Pre-heat your oven to 200 C (390 F), and grease a baking tray using some olive oil or cooking spray of choice. (I’ve actually started using just a plain spray bottle for all my oils which I find really helpful – easy way to cook low fat and keeps things from getting unintentionally greasy). Form little patties or balls and bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping once in between. If you like you can also finish under the grill/broiler until golden brown and crispy.
* Unless you’re cooking for a crowd, you’re bound to have leftovers. The good news is these freeze brilliantly and you can cook them straight from frozen, much like a veggie burger.
** Note that if you don’t have a food processor you can still make these, just and mix everything by hand. Heat the chickpeas and some water in a skillet and mash using a fork or potato masher a la ful mudammas, then add to the mixture at the end – just be wary of adding in more liquid than needed.
For the salad:
3 large falafel patties (or 6 small ones)
1 1/2 cups mixed greens of choice
1/2 cup rucola (arugula, rocket, jarjeer etc.)
1/2 a small red onion, finely chopped
1 large plum tomato, quartered, or a handful of cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp sultanas or raisins
For the Lemon Tahini Dressing:
1 1/2 tbsp tahini
Juice of half a lemon + 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari (alternatively, just use sea salt)
Whisk ingredients together in a small mixing bowl then drizzle on top of the salad.
Some avocado would be spectacular on this – I would’ve added some if mine had been ripe in time. But even without the avos, I have to say this is one of my best salad creations yet.
The falafels, being the star of the show here, make for an equally delectable wrap filling.
Once again, with all the trimmings. Shredded baby romaine, hummus, pickles, tomatoes, onions, olives and lots of toum (garlic) sauce. Served alongside a simple salad of rucola and cucumber as well as some homemade beet chips, this was the perfect lunch.
I’m still working on my regular falafel recipe – a friend has begged me for a GF version that doesn’t crumble at first touch and I’ve just about got it so keep an eye out for it very soon.
If you’re just as falafel-crazed as I am these days and simply cannot wait – check out my recipe for fruity falafel burgers . They’re one of my biggest crowd pleasers and are already gluten free!
And now, back to violently cursing Adobe Flash as I finish designing the rest of my game. Sigh.