Though I’m far from being vegetarian, there are a lot of delicious vegetarian meals out there and falafels are one of them. Spicy, crunchy, (almost) healthy, what more can a girl ask for? I always keep a few cans of chickpeas in the cupboard so all that’s left to do is buy is the fresh ingredients (parsley and coriander) – and cook, of course. This is also the kind of meal that goes with all seasons and is really easy to prepare, as long as you have some kind of food processor.
I like my falafels with just about anything, but my favorite is in a pita sliced down the middle, with some tzatziki, hummus, shredded cabbage, and yogurt with a bit of chill, spice or lemon drizzled over the top. But you probably know that they also make a great snack, eaten plain – hot or cold.
Now, I know that falafels are not traditionally served with tzatziki but I just think the two go so well together. If you’re short on time, you can always buy pre-made tzatziki. In that case go for a good brand. The recipe here is for tzatziki with shredded cucumber – I guess that’s just a personal preference – but it also works with cubes. Real tzatziki is always a long process, but boy is it worth it.
There are also plenty of other dips that mix well with falafels like tahini or hummus or even just yoghurt, it’s really a question of personal taste so just go with whatever you feel like at the time, or whatever you have handy.
If you have some yoghurt left over at the end, try mixing in some good quality honey for a simple and delicious dessert.
Unfortunately I don’t currently have a decent camera so I’ll have to come back to this post when I next make falafels to add some proper pictures. It won’t be long, I promise!
Makes 10-14 falafels
- 2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (1 standard can)
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley
- 1 cup coriander (cilantro)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- Canola/sunflower oil, for sautéing
Put the onions and garlic into your food processor and pulse until finely minced. You can chop the garlic beforehand to avoid any chunks in your finished mix. Set aside the mixture for later.
Put the chickpeas, parsley, coriander, sale, chill and cumin into the food processor and pulse until roughly blended. I don’t tend to blend very much – I like to have a few whole chickpeas in my falafels for texture – but of course you’re allowed to purée if you like.
Put the onion-garlic mixture back into the food processor. Add the baking soda then gradually the flour until the mixture starts to form a ball and stops sticking. Don’t worry if you don’t use the full amount of flour (or if you need more), each batch will be slightly different. You can also do this step by hand with a wooden spoon.
Refrigerate the mixture for an hour or two. If you’re short on time, you can pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes or so. This will make it much easier to form the balls.
Once the mixture has chilled, form balls roughly the size of a ping-pong ball with a spoon (or ice cream scoop, or your hands – my personal favorite). Then coat a pan with oil and put it on medium heat for a few minutes before adding the falafels one by one. Cook them on each side until well-browned and cooked throughout – this could take anywhere between 3 and 8 minutes per side depending on your pan and hot plates.
Once cooked, put the falafels on a paper towel lined plate or cooling rack. Then eat them however you like!
- 1 large cucumber
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups (450mL) thick Greek yoghurt
- 1/6 cup mint, finely chopped
- 1/6 cup dill, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
If you can’t find real thick Greek yoghurt then strain the plain yoghurt in doubled-over cheesecloth overnight to thicken it. I do this step even with proper Greek yoghurt, for a bit of extra thickness.
Peel the cucumber, cut it in half and scrape out the seeds then grate it (with the large holes of a cheese grater for example). Cover the cucumber with the salt then put it in a tea towel or other absorbant cloth and wring it over the sink to remove as much water as possible. Try to be gentle though, you don’t want to turn the grated cucumber into mush.
Mix the cucumber with the yoghurt, herbs and olive oil. Add part of the garlic and taste before adding the rest, it can be slightly overpowering. Then season accordingly by adding more salt or even a squirt of fresh lemon juice.
Tzatziki is even better the day after it’s made, once the flavours have had time to mix properly. You can make it up to three days in advance.