Just a week before lockdown, I had the pleasure of teaching my Moroccan and Middle Eastern class to the lovely guests who joined us.
One of the recipes that I particularly love to teach in this class are these falafels.
One of the main worries and complaints about homemade falafel is the problem that they either lose their shape, break into pieces or disintegrate completely during cooking.
Falafel disaster is a real concern to a lot of people and sadly, it’s keeping many from cooking falafel at home. A few things to remember and you are on your way to falafel perfection:
Do NOT use canned chickpeas for homemade falafel. To make perfect falafel, start with quality (organic) dried chickpeas, soak them overnight, drain, process and shape. You use them as is – You do not worry about cooking the chickpeas, simply process and use. They’ll hydrate overnight and once processed properly, they’ll cook beautifully in the oil all while retaining their shape and texture. You’ll not only save time, you’ll get much more nicely textured, pliable and spongy yet crunchy falafel balls. The major secret to great falafel is to not overly process the chickpeas. Canned chickpeas have been cooked, processed and brined which makes for an undesirable texture for falafel. Rehydrated, uncooked chickpeas on the other hand? There’s your key to falafel fame!
This recipe will keep you busy enough during isolation and will nourish you from the inside out. You’ll also be considered a bit of a falafel hero and that’s a good hero to be.
Falafels with green tahini dressing
300 grams chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped or crushed with a garlic crusher
2 long red chillies, seeds removed & finely chopped
1 large handful of parsley – leaves picked
1 large handful of coriander – leaves picked
1-teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1-teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 eggs, whites only
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Oil for frying
Green tahini yoghurt dressing
Place the chickpeas in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and leave to soak overnight. Drain in a colander.
To make the falafel, use a food processor and blitz the onion, garlic, chilli and herbs until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and whizz to a coarse texture, similar to couscous. Transfer to a bowl and add the baking powder, spices, sesame seeds, egg whites, sea salt, pepper and lemon zest. Mix together.
Using 2 tablespoons, shape falafel mixture into 20 portions or simply use your hands.
Heat oil for deep frying into a large saucepan or deep fryer and heat to 170oC. To test, drop a cube of bread into the oil and if it is golden in 20 seconds, you are ready to cook your falafels. If the oil is not hot enough, the falafels will break apart. Fry the falafels no more than six at a time for about 3-4 minutes per batch or until golden brown on all surfaces.
Leave falafel to drain for about a minute on a cooling rack or paper towel.
Serve with green tahini yoghurt dressing.
Green tahini dressing
1/2 cup of baby spinach
4 tablespoons of fresh dill
1/3 cup of tahini
1/2 cup of Greek yoghurt
1 clove of garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon of Chardonnay vinegar
½ cup of water
To make the green tahini dressing, place all ingredient (except for the water) into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add some or all of the water, if needed for consistency. Add water until the mixture becomes a sauce-like consistency.