I love Middle Eastern food. There is something unbelievably comforting about big bowls of hummus and babaganoush, both potent with the smell of fresh garlic and herbs. Another Middle Eastern favourite – the falafel – is also delightfully delicious, and makes for a tasty vegan alternative to the meaty options that generally dominant this cuisine.
Unfortunately, most food outlets serve a highly processed and deep fried version of the falafel, which is filled with fillers, salt and less than friendly flours.
My version is baked, uses whole ingredients and above all, tastes INCREDIBLE!
For the falafel
- 1 cup of dry red lentils, or 2 cups of tinned lentils, rinsed (once soaked, the dry lentils are equal to around 2 – 2 ½ cups of cooked, so if you are using canned, keep this in mind)
- Around 2 cups of chopped cilantro leaves (coriander)
- 4 – 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 red onion
- Chilli powder and chilli flakes, to taste
- 1 ½ tablespoons of tahini
- 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 – 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground masala (feel free to substitute other spices here. Ground coriander and smoked paprika work well too)
- 1 – 3 tablespoons of chickpea flour
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
For the tahini dressing
- 1/3 of a cup of tahini
- Juice of a lemon
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 1 garlic glove, grated or chopped
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- Sea salt and cracked pepper
For the salad
- 3 cups of shredded kale
- 3 carrots, shaved into ribbons or spiralled
- ¼ cup of red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
If using dry lentils, soak them in fresh water overnight. If using tinned, empty 2 tins and rinse thoroughly, removing salt and brine.
Add the lentils to a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the coriander, garlic, onion and chilli and pulse to combine. Next add the tahini, olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Make sure to taste, and adjust flavours as needed.
Add the baking soda and the chickpea flour. The mixture should still be quite moist, so go easy on the flour, until you reach a moist consistency. If too much flour is added, the falafels will become dry and hard when baked.
Refrigerate the mix for around 30 minutes. On a parchment-lined tray, scoop around 2 tablespoons of the mixture into your hands, and roll into balls. Bake in the oven for around 20 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
While the falafels are baking, make the salad and the dressing. For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together until creamy. Toss the salad ingredients together.
Serve the salad on individual plates and top with falafels and dressing. Enjoy!
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