Thursday, 18 April 2013

Baked Falafel with Cucumber-Dill Sauce

Last weekend I put together a Middle Eastern dinner for a few of my girlfriends - falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, pitas, the whole nine yards. While chowing down, we got to talking about where falafel comes from. My first thought was "the Middle East!" with vague ideas about connections to Morocco or Turkey. Well, I was close...

Falafel, the deliciously seasoned chickpea patty found in Middle Eastern restaurants everywhere, actually has a fairly murky history. Theories put its origins in Egypt or possibly the area historically known as Levant, which includes modern-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, parts of southern Turkey and western Iraq. Falafel are enjoyed by Muslims during Ramadan, Coptic Christians during Lent, and also by the masses in sandwiches, pitas and salads.

Falafel are wildly popular in Arabic countries and around the world because they are easy to make, filling and oh-so-tasty. My only beef (ha!) with falafel is that they are traditionally deep-fried in oil. Here I've found a way to make falafel almost oil-free without compromising the taste or texture.

This recipe can be adapted to make large or small falafel patties (my husband thought the small ones looked like cookies, so he dubbed them 'falookies'). I prefer the small patties - they are thinner and easier to bake, and they maintain a nice, creamy texture in the middle.

Baked Falafel

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Makes 12-14 small patties


Ingredients:

1 cup onion, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour*
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. salt
Cracked black pepper, to taste

*I tried making these with chickpea flour, but they were super dry. Definitely not recommended!*

Directions:

1. Chop onion, garlic and parsley in a food processor for 10-15 seconds
2. Add all other ingredients and process into a thick, cookie batter-like mixture
3. Refrigerate until ready to use (10 minutes or longer)
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
5. Brush 1 tsp. safflower oil onto a baking sheet with a silicone mat
6. Using a tablespoon, scoop cookie-sized balls of falafel onto mat
7. Bake 15 minutes, then flip and press falafel down and bake another 10 minutes


























Cucumber-Dill Sauce


Prep time: 5 minutes

Makes about 1/2 cup


Ingredients:

1/3 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup cucumber, sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy

Enjoy both falafel and sauce with a salad of mixed greens or stuffed into a pita with lettuce and tomato. Simple and amazing!

Inspiration: Big Vegan