Falafels seem to be a universal food that everyone likes, and for good reason. The history of the falafel is highly debated. It is hotly contested by both Israelis and Palestinians that they alone invented the delicious chickpea fritter. Palestinians believe that Israel stole the falafel, a traditional Arab food, and re-invented it as its own. Israeli’s of course, beg to differ. Whatever the history, falafels (when done properly), are a powerhouse of nutrition and energy.
Chickpeas are a legume and are highly coveted for their high fibre content (one cup provides about 12.5 grams, which is 50% of the daily recommended value). Fibre aids digestion by ensuring food continues to pass through the body. Chickpeas also contain vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene as well as the mineral manganese, which is a key antioxidant in the mitochondria found inside most cells. High in protein and a complex carbohydrate, the humble chickpea is certainly a powerful little bean.
While some falafel recipes contain cracked burgher, a form of wheat, traditional falafels are gluten free. The falafel is usually fried (or deep fried in most cases) however a much healthier alternative is to make your own and bake them in the oven. A touch of spice in the below recipe will add a burst of flavour.
Gluten free baked falafel
- 1 large shallot, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained
- ¼ cup of fresh coriander
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of harissa*
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (around 200 degrees C).
In a food processor, pulse the shallot and garlic until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas, fresh coriander, cumin, ground coriander, salt and harissa. Blend until the chickpeas are coarsely chopped and the other ingredients are incorporated.
Form the mixture into patties and place them on a lined baking tray.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through the process so both sides brown. Serve with tabouli salad and tahini.
*Harissa is a spicy Middle Eastern sauce or paste. You can find it in your gourmet supermarket or specialty stores.