Falafels

Where these falafels fail in aesthetics, they make up for in taste.

Not long ago, while I was perusing the health food aisle (a favourite pastime of mine), I came across a falafel making kit. A bit of a ‘just add water for an instant chickpea party’ type scenario – kind of like box cake, but for falafels.

While I have no doubt the kit works and makes delicious falafels – and probably prettier ones than these – it made me realise that if you’ve never made falafels, they probably seem like they’re going to be hard and time consuming when they don’t need to be.

Before you say anything – I’ve seen the warning signs. I know recipes online will tell you not to use tinned chickpeas and to instead soak the dried variety overnight as the former will not work. But who has the time (or the foresight) for that?!

I’m going to commit the cardinal sin of falafel making and encourage you to ignore all that. I’ve made falafels from both tinned and soaked chickpeas and, in my opinion, the only real difference is their appearance.

Soaked chickpeas are drier than tinned, and therefore result in better shaped and prettier falafels. By all means, if you do have the forethought and time to soak dried chickpeas overnight, then do it. However, if you can get past a flat falaf, those made from tinned chickpeas are just as delicious.

Personally, I can get past it. Despite what Instagram would have you believe, food doesn’t have to be pretty to be delicious, satisfying and/or healthy. Plus, if using tinned chickpeas over soaked ones means people are more likely to make real food from whole ingredients, I think that can only be a good thing.

One point to note is that I am a lazy cook, and I will almost always choose the easiest cooking method which requires the least clean up. In this case, that means I bake my falafels rather than deep or shallow fry them. If you do give these a go and decide instead to go down the frying route, please let me know how you go as I would love to know!

INGREDIENTS

X2 400g tin chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

Juice and rind of 1 lemon

Bunch of parsley

Bunch of mint

Bunch of corriander

5 cloves of garlic (baked or raw)

1/2 of 1 purple onion

1 tsb bicarbonate of soda

1 tsb smoked paprika

1 tsb ground cumin

2 tsb sesame seeds

2 tsp chia seeds (only if using tinned chickpeas- helps to dry mixture)

Olive oil for cooking

METHOD

If baking, preheat oven to 180° fan-forced. Line a baking tray.

Blend all ingredients except oil until smooth. Shape one tablespoon at a time into balls In your palms and place on lined tray. Drizzle a little oil over each falafel, and bake for 20 minutes.

If you have used tinned chickpeas, you’ll notice your falafels will have flattened slightly. I like to use a spoon to reshape them a bit, before returning them to the oven on grill for a further 10 minutes until golden.

Serve with flat bread, tabbouleh and tzatziki.

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