During my stay in London over their 2013 heatwave, I found my myself existing off solely one food item – falafel. Living in the suburb of Shepherd’s Bush with its strong ties to both Lebanese and Pakistani cultures, these little fried balls of deliciousness often made up both breakfast and dinner on my way to and from the tube station on the high street.

Back home in Cape Town, I set about discovering a way of making falafel at home without using the traditional deep-fried method. Completely vegetarian, mine are baked in a hot oven – a far lighter but no less tasty version than you could get at any side street kebab shop. I’ve also added a secret ingredient to give my baked falafel an extra crunch. After experimenting with all kinds of recipes, my falafel tended to fall apart after being baked and so to keep them crisp on the outside and tender on the inside I decided to shake off tradition and coat the falafel dough in cornflake crumbs before “oven-frying” them in about 1mm of coconut oil – basically treating them like a chicken nugget of sorts. What this does is ensure that the falafel stays intact and as mentioned, gives it the most addictively delicious crunch.

To keep things on the slimmer side, I’ve paired my baked falafel with tabbouleh salad, pickled peppers, cucumber, labneh cheese and an addictive herbed yoghurt dressing to create a Nourish Bowl full of Middle Eastern flavour but feel free to stuff grilled homemade flatbreads full of pickles, hummus and chilli sauce for a more recognisable take on this amazing dish. Keep things vegetarian as is, or opt for a vegan version by omitting the labneh cheese from the Nourish Bowl and adding more olive oil to the tahini sauce instead of the yoghurt.

Baked Falafel

Prep time: 15 mins / Cook time: 1 hour / Serves: 4 to 6

You will need:

  • a tin of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 50g plain flour (opt for gluten-free flour such as quinoa if required)
  • 1 large egg (omit this if you’re going vegan and add in about a tablespoon of the chickpea liquid instead)
  • coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2T ground cumin
  • 1T ground turmeric
  • 1T of extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon
  • a large handful of fresh parsley
  • cornflake crumbs (you can also use panko breadcrumbs, but cornflake crumbs give the best crunch)
  • plain coconut oil, for oven-frying

Combine all ingredients except the flour, cornflake crumbs and coconut oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. With the blade running, slowly add the flour until the mixture has reached the consistency of slightly damp dough. If you add too much flour, simply put a little water into the mixture. You should be able to form the ‘dough’ into small even patties without it falling apart. In a large oven-proof dish, pour in about 1mm of coconut oil and place the dish in a preheated fan oven at 200°C for about 15 minutes or until the oil is hot. While it’s heating up, coat your falafels in the cornflake crumbs by pouring the crumbs on to a plate and gently rolling each patty in them.

When the oil is hot, use tongs to place the falafels in the dish and return to the oven for about 30 minutes before turning the falafel over. They’re ready when they’re crispy and golden. Drain on kitchen towel and serve hot.

My Best-ever Basic Chilli Sauce

Prep time: 15 mins / Serves: 4 to 6

You will need:

  • 10 to 15 large red or green chillies
  • a whole head of garlic
  • a large handful of fresh parsley
  • the juice and zest of two lemons
  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse ground sea salt and black pepper

Using a large knife or mezzaluna, slice up the chillies – retaining the seeds of you want the sauce a little hotter – and place into a mixing bowl. Break apart the head of garlic and peel each clove. Using the same large knife, finely chop the garlic and add to the chillies. Next, wash and finely chop the parsley, being careful to include the stems as thats where all the flavour is. Finally, add the lemon juice and zest and the olive oil to the bowl and mix to combine. Season and taste before allowing the sauce to stand at room temperature for about an hour to let the flavours develop. Serve drizzled over the warm falafel in a pita wrap or over the Nourish Bowl.

Falafel Nourish Bowl

Prep time: 20 mins / Serves: 2 to 4

You will need:

  • half a fresh cucumber, washed and sliced into ribbons
  • about 400g readymade tabouleh, couscous salad or cooked brown lentils
  • a small jar of pickled peppers
  • a 250g tub of hummus
  • a small white onion, sliced into wedges
  • 2 large flatbreads, torn into sections
  • a jar of labneh cheese
  • 3T tahini paste
  • 50ml plain Greek double thick yoghurt
  • fresh parsley
  • 2t lemon juice
  • 1t extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for baking
  • coarse ground sea salt and black pepper

In a bowl, arrange the tabouleh or couscous salad – I used a mixture of diced tomato, onion and parsley  from my vegetable allotment in mine – along with the pickles, cucumber ribbons, onion and flatbread around a few of the falafels. A dollop of hummus and a labneh ball are great additions to top off the bowl. Meanwhile, add a few dollops of the Greek yoghurt and a tablespoon of the tahini paste to the lemon juice and 1t of olive oil. Finely chop the herbs and mix into the yoghurt.

To finish the Nourish Bowl, spoon over the herbed yoghurt dressing, a brave amount of the chilli sauce, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and scatter a few black sesame seeds over the top. Serve immediately.

Note: to make the Nourish Bowl for a crowd, just double or triple up on ingredients.

HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL

HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL

HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL

HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL

HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL

HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL

HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL

HEALTHY BAKED FALAFEL

 

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2 comments

Reply

Your food styling or rather styling in general is top notch!!

Reply

Hi Lalannie,

Thank you so much for your kind words – I’m sorry the blog is so scarce at the moment, I’m busy repopulating it over this weekend so expect lots of lovely new content by next week!

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