Falafel provide a wonderful addition to a meal, giving you protein and fibre and can be used as an alternative to meat.
Falafel, or felafel, the pronunciation is fəlˈɑːfəl said: “full-ah-full” if you don't understand the phonetic lettering like me.
They contain high amounts of protein and fibre, and they do have some carbs in there too, so if you're on a carbohydrate related diet you may have to calculate your intake. You can make them spicy if you wish, the following falafel recipe is fairly tame because I was cooking it for the kids to eat as well, careful with salt if they are really young (consult your health visitor if you are unsure before feeding any food to really young children). If they were just for me I'd probably make them quite fiery, alternatively you could make a spicy dip to go with them then everyone is happy.
Traditionally these are deep fried, however I prefer to fry them in a 'little' oil in a frying pan to try and reduce the amount of oil involved. This means that this recipe isn't perfect. I'd like the falafel to be more crisp, at the moment they are a little squidgy. I'm working on this to see if there's another solution. Next time I'll be trying some in the oven to see if there's a difference, they may crisp up better. I will update the recipe if it is a better method. If you have a suggestion why not leave a comment or send me a message using the menu on the left.
Ingredients for the Falafel recipe
- 400g tin of chickpeas
- ¼ teaspoon of cumin, ginger, curry powder, turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of chopped coriander
- 5-6 leaves of mint
- 1/3 slice of bread (I used the crust)
- 50-60 ml water
- olive oil
- pinch salt and pepper
- flour for dusting
How to make the falafel
Normally the chickpeas in a tin should be all ready for you, I still normally heat and simmer them for 5-10 minutes then tip into a colander discarding the water. I then leave them to cool, drain and dry out a bit. This is normally a job first thing in the morning to be eaten that evening, they can be kept in the fridge once cooled until you need them, it just gets a job out of the way.
I tip the chickpeas into a food processor and add the cumin, ginger, curry powder, turmeric, coriander, mint and bread. The whizz it all up until it looks grainy, almost like coarse bread crumbs. I then need to add back in water to the chickpeas to bring them together. The reason I dry them first then add water after is because sometimes they may contain too much water and once mixed it's impossible to remove water! So it's best to dry, then add water. I've put down 50-60 ml of water, but this is variable due to how moist the chickpeas are. Add the water bit by bit until it comes together like a rough dough or paste.
Get a plate, or chopping board, so that you have something to place the falafel on. I normally makes some room in the fridge so that they can be stored until needed. Dust the plate or board with flour, and set some aside for you hands. Take a small scoop with your 'dusted' hands and roll into a ball just under the size of a golf ball, place on your board and plate. Repeat until you've used all the mix.
Now this is the 'experimental' stage. Heat some oil (2-3 tablespoons) of oil in a non-stick frying pan. The oil will need to be pretty hot so that the falafel don't soak up the oil, but sizzle instead. Fry until they have crisped up on the outside and have been 'browned' on all sides. Initially you'll have to be gentle with them as I find them a little delicate. Obviously if you go the deep-fry route then you just gentle place them into the oil and they'll cook away nicely. The reason I'm trying to do this in a frying pan is to reduce the amount of oil.
Once fried, serve hot as an accompaniment to another dish. They could be eaten with salad in pitta breads, or in wraps with some other vegetables or meat. A nice bit of salsa goes well with them too. You can try them with many dishes though.
Sources used for this article:
- Written by Stuart Edge
- Category: Sides & Accompaniments
- Published: 21 May 2012