Savoury

Falafel

Falafel has a permanent place in our home. Growing up in the middle east, my brother and I pretty much lived on this staple as an afterschool snack – eaten warm, wrapped in extremely thin flatbread, with tahini, pickled onions, lettuce and tomatoes and fresh mint leaves. For us, this was falafel. And if we went to a fancy restaurant, the falafel balls came alone, with tahini and salad on the side. When we moved to India, I was introduced to a new kind of falafel – made from green lentils, similar to dal wada, loaded with spicy red garlic sauce and lathered in hummus. While delicious – I mean, how can you go wrong with fried balls and hot sauce? – it did not satiate the homesickness for my childhood. And gradually, I lost my fondness of falafels in this country.

But last year, a client approached me to create seasoning blends for them, including one for falafel – and thus re-emerged my love for falafels. I spent months in developing various seasonings (and I’m proud to say they are coming to the shelves close to you soon!!) and also the recipes that goes along with them. After years, I went back to this falafel recipe, and kicked myself for not doing this sooner. The falafel has made a regular appearance at our dining table ever since!

This recipe is as close to the original taste that I grew up with 30 years ago and is ridiculously easy, and you’d be surprised at the basic ingredients list. The trick is to use soaked overnight chickpeas – no need to cook them. However, you have to soak for a long time – at least 14 hours, and if you can, change the water once in between – this is the only tedious part, I promise,

I’ve also shared a falafel seasoning that I absolutely adore in falafels – I make a much larger batch and use it in eggs, dips, grilled veggies… The amount of seasoning is perfect for this recipe portion – although you may feel it too be a lot, don’t worry, the taste only enhances!

Substitutes: coriander can be replaced or merged with parsley, or a bit of fresh mint too. You can also use another kind of lentil if you wish, but for the love of God, please don’t call them falafels! If you want to bake them, then make the balls and place on a baking tray and place in the fridge to allow them to hold shape. Bake in a hot oven at 180C for 45 minutes, flipping them over halfway. If the balls are smaller, then reduce the time accordingly.

Strict Note: Please always use dried chickpeas

Happy Note: this is vegan and gluten free!

Serve with:

Flatbread, Tahini Sauce, Mediterranean Salad

The Recipe
Serves Yields: 24 medium balls

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (14 hours), rinsed and dried
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour (besan, channa no lot)
  • oil for deep frying
  • Seasoning:
  • 1 tsp ground cumin, roasted
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • pinch of cardamom
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tsp dried parsley

Instructions

  • Rinse and dry the chickpeas and place in a food processor
  • Add the onions, garlic, green chilies and coriander leaves with stalks
  • Pulse down, to a coarse mixture, ensuring no large bits are present
  • Remove into a container with lid
  • Add the salt, chickpea flour, seasoning and baking soda and powder, stiring to combine
  • Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
  • When ready to fry, heat the oil in in a large wok or pot
  • Scoop mini balls of the batter and fry until browned (you can use a 30ml cookie scooper to size)
  • Serve with pita or flatbread, with tahini sauce and salad