Last year I had a couple of hours to spare on an unusually busy day and headed for the local library. The automatic pilot in my brain directed me, as usual, to the food section where I saw a little book trying to grab my attention. I looked at the cover: Spice It….it said. As usual, I filled the pages with post-its for everything that I wanted to try…and still want to try (because to be fair I haven’t cooked that many things from it). So one evening, when I had no idea what to cook for the next day, J suggested one particular recipe that caught his eye. It was one of those times when we cooked together, and what a treat that was! I was sous-chef and kitchen cleaner simultaneously but everything worked.
The only thing that you may find tricky to get hold of is the tahini paste. These days you don’t need to go to speciality shops for it; your local supermarket will probably have it. Unfortunately I don’t think you can replicate the taste by using peanut butter as a substitute for tahini, but you could try that out if you’re up for an experiment.
Now before you read the ingredient list I tell you this: don’t be frightened because of the frying bit. You won’t eat these that often and they’re a doddle to make. There’ll be some washing up but nothing you cannot handle. May the force be with you! (I just had to put something sci-fi in there. Sorry but the temptation was too strong.) This serves 4 and is ideal as party food, snack food or part of a meze.
For the falafel you need:
- 250g dried chickpeas
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 5 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 5 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- some vegetable oil for frying
For the tahini yoghurt dressing you need:
- 100ml yogurt
- 100g tahini paste
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- juice of ½ a lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put the chickpeas in a bowl and cover them with cold water. Leave them to soak overnight.
- Drain the chickpeas, put them into a food processor and grind them coarsely. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, coriander (both fresh and dried), cumin and baking powder and blitz until smooth to give you a bright green mixture.
- For the tahini dressing, put the yoghurt, tahini paste, crushed garlic clove, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl and whisk. Season to taste.
- Now comes the fun part: using slightly wet hands shape the chickpea mixture into around 20 oval shapes. Feel the fear (as Nigella would say) and heat about 3cm of vegetable oil in a deep pan. To make sure the oil is hot enough slowly drop a small cube of bread in the pan. If it starts to get brown immediately then you can start frying the falafel. Fry the falafel in batches until golden brown on all sides. Drain them on a paper towel and try to keep them warm while you book the next batch.
- Place them on a serving dish and drizzle the dressing on top.
Serve with some side salad if you wish. You will miss these little guys when you’ll eat them all.