Saturday, 11 December 2010

Quick, easy falafel

I love falafel - it's tasty, substantial and technically counts as one of your five a day as it's made from chickpeas (which is like 60p a can) and a whole lot of spices. It also keeps great in the fridge, so any that you have left over can be thrown into a salad or eating with some pita and hummus the next day.
Although this doesn't have the fast-food appeal of something that's been deep fried (indeed, what does), it's really easy to throw a load of stuff you might have sitting in your fridge - a tomato, a bit of bagged salad, Greek yoghurt - and make a spread which is really impressive. And it takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, or even less.
The golden rule here I think is that in my opinion it's very hard to over season. The original recipe I got this from used a tablespoon of cumin, and that was all. You can probably double or triple this - I just throw a fair whack in. 

The only thing you might have trouble finding is Harissa spice, a Moroccan chilli-and-rose paste which goes great in Middle Eastern cooking. This recipe is fine without it as well, of course (I can't stand recipes that hinge on you being able to find pomegranate molasses, etc.) If you can find one though, or even one of those supermarket 'rubs' which you're supposed to smear over a chicken, throw it in by all means.
This makes enough for two people comfortably... 

Easy falafel 
  • 400g can of chickpeas 
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • Three or four cloves of garlic
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp of smoked paprika (if you have it)
  • 2 tbsp dried coriander 
  • Pinch of chilli flakes (if you want a little heat)
  • 1 tbp harissa paste
  • 4 - 8 tbsp flour
Drain the chickpeas before you start anything else, and give them a rinse in the colander, then dry off a bit with some kitchen towel and leave to sit for a bit, to dry a bit more. Meanwhile, chop your red onion half fairly finely, chuck it in a bowl. Do the same with the parsley, and garlic, add to the bowl, along with the spices, and the harissa (not the flour yet.)

Use either a food processor or a hand-held blender (I got mine for £3.99 from Sainsburys and it does the job nicely) to mash it all into a fairly consistent paste. Don't worry about getting ALL the chickpeas mashed up, just most of them. 

Start adding your flour, mixing through with a wooden spoon - I find you need way more than you will think. Basically you want to add enough so that it's still sticky, but not so impossibly sticky that you can't pick it up. You want to mould them into burger-shapes (my boyfriend insists that round ones taste better - but this is because you have that shape when they're deep fried! Burger-shaped is the best way to go.)  You're going to want to dust your hands with flour when picking up little handfuls.Put them to one side, then fry, or just add straight to a medium-hot frying pan as you go, with a good glug of olive oil, fry until crispy and brown on both sides then serve with pita, hummus (sprinkled with smoked paprika like in the picture is lovely), and anything else you can find/be bothered with! Rocket salad, chopped tomato, feta, couscous, roasted vegetables, etc - it's all good. 

Addendum: I tried making this from 'real', untinned chickpeas once which needed to be soaked, boiled, etc, and the end result was so disappointing and the effort needed so much more that I really don't think I'll be trying that again... 

Credit where credit is due: inspired/modified from the BBC

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