Monday, 7 March 2016

Falafel



I love food, if you know me you will know this already. I like making my own food and rarely find a ready made or a restaurant dish that I don’t feel can be made better at home. Not that I can make it better at home per say but that it would benefit from the tender loving care of a home kitchen.

Falafel is one of those dishes. I find that store bought  falafel is very dry, and can be lacking in flavour. I like my falafel herby, and I like to have a big more cumin in there too. In addition my friend Mandy pointed out to me this week that 2016 is the year of pulses, so falafel seems a good way to start. a good falafel sandwich can be comforting and it is actually quite healthy, you have a bit of bread, plenty of fiber and protein in the chickpea and some nice salad. You can add feta cheese or yogurt sauce so a bit of calcium in there too.

MY favourite part is building the falafel sandwich, cramming it full of lettuce and tomatoes and drizzling lots and lots of garlicky tahini sauce.

If you want to make everything from scratch the below instructions will take a total of about 2h including cooking and cleaning time. I would suggest to just buy the pita bread 99.9% of the time then it takes only 40 minutes from start to plate.

Ingredients

For the Falafel
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 x 400g/14oz can chickpeas
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp chopped mint
  • 1 lemon or lime, zest grated
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For the Tahini Sauce

  • 3 tbsp of Tahini paste
  • about 100 ml of water -you may need more
  • 4 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • ½ close of crushed garlic
  • salt to taste
For the Flat Bread

  • 300g plain wholemeal flour
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
  • ½ tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil

Method for the Falafel

  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small pan. Fry the onion over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a further two minutes and remove from the heat.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. If you have a food processor put them all in alternatively transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the sautéed onion and garlic and blitz together OR crush together with a potato masher until the mixture is broken down.
  3. Add the cumin, mixed herbs and lemon zest and whizz for a few second to combine. If you are doing this by hand make sure the herbs are finely chopped. Now is the time to taste and season with salt and pepper because next you will be adding the egg and mix together.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Using a tablespoon to measure out the mixture form into patties and place on a non-stick baking tray. Rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, this helps them hold together better.
  5. Remove the falafel from the fridge, drizzle with the remaining oil and bake for 25 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown. Turn occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Method for the Flat Bread

This flatbread is very hardy, it is perfect for picnics and camping it carries sauces very well and it is absolutely delicious. You can prepare it in advance and take it with you cooked, or you can have it all rolled out, separated by clingfilm - make sure you flour the bread so it doesn’t stick - and cook it our on the fire when camping or on the BBQ later on. 

  1. Put all the dry ingredients in a bow and slowly add the water while mixing with the other hand until it starts to form a dough - get your hands in! It is important to know what the dough feels like, that way you will know when it is ready, if it is too wet or too dry.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and bring it together kneading for a  couple of minutes. IT makes quite a solid robust dough.  
  3. Separate the dough into about 14 equal pieces - put all of them under a towel so they don’t dry out as you work with them.
  4. Roll each piece into a ball in your hands, then roll out each ball to form a 5mm thick round or oval. Brush one side with a little olive oil
  5. Cook oil-side down on a hot griddle pan, barbeque or dry frying pan for 1 minute, Brush the top with oil and turn over for another minute.

Method for the Tahini Sauce

  1. Put all the ingredients in a jar, close the lid tight and shake.  
  2. Check the consistency of the sauce and give it a taste add anything that you may want, salt, lemon, garlic up to you. If you want it a little looser then just add more water

TIP - Now not a lot of people will know this but adding acid to tahini paste makes it thicker. This is why you need quite a bit of  water, when you are putting as much lemon juice in the tahini paste as we are here you need a lot of water.

Now that you have all your parts it is time to put it together a glorious falafel sandwich! How you do this is entirely up to you! Just make sure you have plenty of salad and sauce because falafel is inherently quite a dry thing. It is lovely with the tahini sauce but it is just as nice with a yogurt and mint sauce. 

Bon Apettite!