A while back I made a lovely roast eggplant salad along with some pretty dismal baked falafels*. If I’m honest, this kind of put us off making own falafels.
However, it was the Sunday of the long weekend. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon. And the supermarket had none of the packet falafel mix we’re known to use. Thankfully, the supermarket ALWAYS has tins of chickpeas.
I read through three or four recipes on the mighty internet and decided that winging it was definitely the way to go.
And I was right. Making your own falafels from scratch is easy and they taste a lot better than a packet mix (no surprise there, I guess). The other great thing about making them yourself is that you can make them as coarsely or as finely textured as you please.
Our batch was very finely textured, thanks in no small part to the fact that our toddler LOVES the MagiMix (“oooooh, this one!” he squeals) and has some mad skills when it comes to pressing the ‘pulse’ button! For a coarser finished product, either remove the toddler or add the chickpeas last.
For two people, or to make 12 good size falafels, proceed as follows.
Drain and rinse one tin of chickpeas.
In a food processor, whizzy up the chickpeas with 2 cloves of garlic (or to taste), 1 tbsp of ground coriander, a generous teaspoon of cumin seeds, chilli powder and cayenne to taste, a generous pinch of salt, ½ tbsp of tahini, 1 tbsp each of chopped parsley and chopped (fresh) coriander. Process until you reach your desired texture.
Finish by stirring 3 tbsp of plain flour through the mixture.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! VERY VERY IMPORTANT!
Without the flour, the mixture will be too wet (even if it doesn’t look it) and when you go to fry your falafel they will magically shrink from a sensible falafel size down to that of a little tiny pea … Trust me, I know this from experience!
If you are aiming for a gluten free falafel, substitute chickpea (or besan or gram) flour for the plain but you will probably need to use less.
You can allow the mixture some time to rest (perfect for prepping ahead) or you can cook straight away. With damp hands, roll generous tablespoons of the mixture into balls and deep fry at about 190°C. We use a deep fat fryer for this – it’s much better than a wok and even though ours is a very small, cheap fryer we can still fit 4-6 falafels in in one go.
Having said that, it’s always a good idea to fry one falafel on its lonesome first. That way you can check seasoning and ensure that you have put enough flour in. If the falafel shrinks massively, stir through more flour! It also will give you a good idea of how long you need to cook them for.
We served our falafels on giant pitas (khoubz), with garlicky yoghurt and salad. While the falafel themselves are fried, if you drain them on kitchen towel and you have the oil good and hot this is actually a very healthy, fresh, and delicious dinner.
There are two people in our family who won’t be bothering with packet mix again. On the other hand, the toddler was massively disappointed to discover that the falafels weren’t actually sausages …
*I would tend to spell this ‘felafel’ but Google tells me I’m in lonely company on that point.