The greatest dishes are very simple.
~ Auguste Escoffier ~
I will admit to finding falafel in a desperate search when faced with being invited to a bring-and-share at the house of newly-made vegetarian friends. I will admit to being sceptical as to whether balls made from chickpeas could be satisfying. After tasting them though, I do not have to admit to anything else, as I instantly fell in love and have shown the humble falafel all due respect ever since! Okay, I think I might also have to admit to always eating way too many falafels when I make them. I have considered typing here that they make excellent lunch box fillers or lean protein snacks, but to be honest they never make it to the fridge for later.
Not convinced yet? They are healthy (except in large quantities – see above), crispy on the outside and soft and spicy on the inside. They are vegetarian and vegan and inexpensive to make. Let me go all out and say they feed not only your hunger but your soul! I found a haiku online from the Amsterdam Falafel shop, which proves I am not the only one singing odes to falafel:
Falafel, you are
Garbanzo beans, fried in Love
And wrapped in Hell Yeah
My excellent falafel recipe comes from Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. It is really simple to make and she has put in an effort to cut fat out of the recipe as far as possible. She does sauté them in olive oil, but she also has a Crispy Homemade Baked Falafel recipe. I have always stuck to the original recipe without regretting it. Okay, last confession: I have not tried to make the Tahini sauce that goes with the recipe. If I need a sauce, I have used tzatziki or sweet chili sauce.
Homemade Falafel with Tahini sauce
- 2 cups roughly chopped white onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (I use two 400g tins)
- 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
- 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves (coriander)
- 1 t salt
- ¼ t chili powder
- 2 t ground cumin
- 2 t baking powder
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- Canola oil for sautéing
- 1¼ cup plain yogurt
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Add the onion and garlic cloves to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until they are finely minced.
- Remove the mixture and press it through a strainer to release as much liquid as possible then set it aside.
- Add the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili powder, and cumin to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until they are roughly blended but not pureed.
- Return the onion mixture to the food processor, along with the baking powder and just enough flour so that when you pulse the processor, the mixture begins to form a small ball and is not sticky. (Note: Start by adding ¼ cup of flour, and then the remaining ¼ cup. You can add more if the mixture is still too wet.)
- Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
- While the falafel mixture is chilling, prepare the tahini sauce by whisking together the yogurt, tahini and lemon juice. Season it with salt and pepper, cover it and place it in the fridge.
- Once the falafel mixture has chilled, use a small ice cream scoop or spoons to form the mixture into balls (roughly 3 Tablespoons per ball) then flatten them slightly so they are the shape of patties. (Note: You can also add additional flour at this point if the mixture is too wet to scoop.)
- Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add a liberal amount of canola oil so that the pan is well-coated. Let the pan pre-heat for 3 minutes then add the falafel one by one, browning them on the first side for 3 minutes, then flipping them once and browning the second side until the mixture is cooked throughout.
- Transfer the falafel to a paper towel-lined cooling rack and immediately season them with salt. Repeat this process until you have cooked all of the falafel.
- Place three or four falafel inside a halved, warmed pita and drizzle with the prepared tahini sauce.
- I don't think I have ever been able to wait for the dough to chill for the whole hour. It still came out great.
- I like my falafel to be rustic and not uniform, so I just place spoonfuls of the dough into the frying pan and flatten the falafel a bit with the back of a spoon.
- Even though the falafel is vegan, the tahini sauce does contain yogurt so it is not vegan. I am sure one could successfully use soya or coconut yogurt as well.