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Falafel

Falafels have kept me alive and healthy when I’ve been visiting places where veganism is an almost unknown quantity. They’ve maintained me in a similar state even where veganism is well understood as they’re one of the cheapest ultra-healthy foodstuffs you can buy. A pitta stuffed with falafel and salad is pretty much everything you need to sustain full fighting and drinking strength.

They’re also dead easy to make at home with stuff that any self-respecting vegan should have in their cupboard, fridge and garden / windowsill. Once the mix is made, it takes mere seconds to cook and serve ’em up. With the summer settling in and lazing about with mates being the best way to spend an evening, falafels are the perfect accompaniment.

Makes 10 falafels, scale up as needed.

  • 175g / 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½-1 tsp salt
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed / finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley and / or coriander, chopped
  • 1 fresh chili (red for spicy, green for not quite so), finely chopped or a good pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • A good grind of pepper
  • Veg oil for frying

Rinse the chickpeas and soak in cold water for 24 hours. Drain then pat dry in a tea towel.

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a pan on a low heat, shaking often, until beginning to colour and release a lovely smell. Grind them coarsely in a pestle and mortar or spice mill.

Uncooked falafel

Uncooked falafel

Put the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse for a minute or two. You’ll need to stop regularly and scrape down the sides to make sure they get properly smashed up. About halfway through add the rest of the ingredients and blitz until fully combined. The finished mix should be gritty (like couscous grains or bulghur wheat) rather than totally puréed. Remember too that this is the basic recipe, you can jazz ’em up with different flavourings as you see fit.

Put the mix into a bowl, cover with clingfilm, and chill for a couple of hours in the fridge.

Pour oil into a wok to around 1″ deep, just enough to cover the falafels, and put on a medium heat for a couple of minutes until nice and hot. Take about a large walnut’s worth of mix and flatten slightly into a small burger shape. Put as many falafels as will comfortably fit into the wok. Cook for a couple of minutes each side until golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon and place onto kitchen towels to soak up any excess oil. Alternatively, deep fry at around 175°C.

Serve in pitta or tortillas with a load of salad and, if you really like chickpeas, a big smear of hummus too. For more punch use a chili sauce. You can also make a tahini or soya yoghurt sauce to drizzle over, or maybe try a squeeze of lemon or lime. A couple of fresh mint leaves roughly torn and sprinkled on also works really well. In fact, customise ’em however you like. It’s all good.

Cooked falafel

The finished article

3 comments to Falafel

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