Having lived in the Middle East for a little less than two decades, our taste buds tend to gravitate to wonderful middle eastern flavours that revive memories of our stay as expats in Dubai. Our dinners quite often have a hint of levantine spices and ingredients, and my kitchen pantry is almost always stocked with za’taar and sumac spices, pomegranate molasses,preserved lemons, sesame seeds, saffron and olive oil. The tahini sauce has also come to be a sought after condiment and used quite frequently to accompany many of my meals.
Last week I decided to make up a Falafel Salad Bowl for a light and easy lunch. The Falafels and the Tahini sauce have been made from scratch and the recipe is as explained below. Now most often I do bake the Pita breads too,however time being of essence,I had to make do with store bought ones!
I do have to admit that the vibrancy and textures of the Falafel Salad Bowl brought about a burst of flavour in every bite.The edamame,all though part of East asian cuisine, added a nice crunch to this salad bowl and quite complimented the rest of the ingredients. The meal came together really well. I choose to eat this as a salad and ditched the pita bread while the family made them into stuffed pita pockets which were equally scrumptious, with a dash of hot Sriracha sauce that brought the taste buds out of hibernation.
This turned out to be a great way of twisting up an ordinary lunch into something exciting by simply accenting them with some spices,sauces and vegetables. A bowlful of homemade Hummus too is a wonderful accompaniment to the falafels. Traditionally the Arabic Fattoush or Tabouleh would be the go-to salads and paired with the falafels, however the mixed salad worked well too.
Feel free to dress up your falafel salad bowl with veggies and grains of your choice. Cooked Quinoa, brown rice, chopped kale, shredded beets and cucumbers too are a great variation!
Sahtein, which translates into Bon appetit and enjoy your meal in Arabic.
Tips For Making Falafels:
- Use of Dry chickpeas that have been soaked for at least 12 hours prior to making the mixture will yield the best results Vs using canned chickpeas.
- Use of Baking powder makes the falafels fluffier, omitting this makes them dense.
- Fresh herbs like parsley and fresh coriander lend a wonderful flavour to the falafels.
- The mixture must be ground into a coarse texture and not be made into a paste.
- Refrigerating the mixture before making the falafel a really important step so that the balls stay firm together when frying.
- The Oil must be very hot before frying the falafels.
- The Falafels can be baked too at about 375 F. Form the falafel balls into flat balls and lay on a parchment paper.
- Brush some olive oil. Bake on each side for about 12-14 minutes or till done.
You may also like some other middle eastern delights from my kitchen:
Easy Falafel Recipe:
- 400 grams chickpeas (dried not canned)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 tbs cornflour or chickpea flour
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp chilli
- 1 tsp baking powder (optional – makes the falafel more fluffy)
- 4 tbsp Sesame seeds (optional to coat before frying)
- Vegetable oil for frying
The previous night:Put the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Add 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the water and stir; this will help soften the chickpeas. Cover the bowl and let them soak overnight in a cool, dark place on the kitchen counter. The chickpeas should soak at least 12 hours or until tender. They will double in size as they soak – you will have between 4 and 5 cups of beans after soaking.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas well. Put them into your food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, corn flour or chickpea flour salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper.
Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms. Keep scraping the sides of the food processor. The You mixture should hold together like a ball.
Mix well and let the mixture rest for a couple of hours.
Add baking powder if necessary.
Add the vegetable oil to a deep frying pan and form the falafel mixture into round balls. You may add a bit more flour if the mixture does not form. Deep fry the balls for about 5-7 minutes or till golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.