Posted on Leave a comment

Spicy Homemade Falafels

homemade falafels

I love falafels, so decided to find an authentic recipe to allow me to make them myself at home.  The only thing I knew about falafels was that chickpea is one of the main ingredients, and that they are a traditional Middle Eastern staple.  I learned that in fact the dish originated in Egypt (North Africa).  I compared a number of recipes as I wanted mine to be authentic. Whilst looking, I learned that the main ingredient was not necessarily chickpea, but that in some regions broad bean (also known as fava bean), or a combination of both are used.  The basic ingredients found in almost every recipe are chickpeas (or broad beans), coriander, onion, garlic and either breadcrumbs or sesame seeds to coat. I noticed that some recipes contained extra ingredients like bicarbonate of soda, flour and egg.  For my falafels I followed a traditional recipe as much as I could, but made some adaptations based on my preferences and the ingredients I had at home. 

falafel ingredients
Falafel ingredients

Here are the ingredients I used in my recipe:

1 cup of cooked chickpeas
3-4 garlic cloves
half a cup of chopped and cooked curly kale
½ a red onion
1 large spring onion
1 small shallot
½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
half of a fresh red chilli pepper
1 teaspoon of cumin plus salt and black pepper
Lemon Juice
Flaxseeds

Method

Falafels are quite easy to make. Once you have all of your ingredients ready.  Blend them together in a food processor slowly (with a pulse) so as not to over process.  Some recipes suggest that you blend everything until you have a completely smooth mixture.  However, if you prefer a more wholesome or dense falafel, then you should not make the mixture too smooth.  For my recipe, I separated my ingredients into two halves.  I blended one half until it was a smooth paste (I added the lemon juice to help with this). The other half was less pulverised and had more of a course texture. I then combined them both.  I had to tailor my recipe according to ingredients I had at home. I didn’t have any coriander and therefore used finely chopped curly Kale instead.  Also, because I love onions and garlic I had a high quantity of both in mine.  Most recipes suggest half an onion and maybe 2 cloves of garlic. I decided to include bicarbonate of soda in my recipe to ensure they were not too dense.  Many of the recipes I looked at suggest that you then refrigerate the mixture for about half an hour. This is to make it easier to shape. To do this I sectioned off small pieces by hand (or you could use a falafel scoop). I dusted with flour and then rolled into balls (you can also flatten them out like a patty).  In some recipes, they were then coated in breadcrumbs or sesame seeds before frying.  I liked the idea of sesame seeds, but did not have any, so used flaxseeds instead. 

uncooked falafel
uncooked falafel

Shallow frying is possible, but I soon realised that deep frying was the best option. I used a small pot with enough oil to almost cover them. Once the oil was hot enough they cooked very quickly.  I was very pleased with the end result.  They not only looked good but were very tasty. I served mine with salad and a tahini dip.  They are traditionally served with pitta or wrap breads, salads and pickles.

My family loved them! 

Posted on Leave a comment

The obsession with charcoal

One of the latest fads at the moment is foods or products which contain activated charcoal. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I purchased from a Chinese Ebay store, some charcoal toothpaste which claims to whiten teeth naturally. I can confirm that it does actually work. After a month of use my teeth definitely look a shade whiter. However, if you are brushing your teeth in a hurry, which I tend to do, there is the risk that you can get black stains on your clothing and around your bathroom. I am therefore not a convert, but would recommend it to those of you who prefer natural over chemical products.

Charcoal toothpaste and face pack

I am however a fan of charcoal in food. My favourite has been the Gourmet Charcoal Cheeseburger which I had the pleasure of indulging in whilst on vacation in Bali. This healthy Jap Bamboo charcoal black bun was the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth burger I have ever tasted. If ever you go to Bali, be sure to visit Wahrung Bali at the Seminyak Village mall.

For more information on the benefits and uses of activated charcoal, check out this article here