Sunday, 29 July 2012

Falafel with Lemon Sesame Yoghurt

This weekend I checked some things of my culinary to-do list. First time cooking solo for a dinner party, check. First time cooking with dried beans, check. First time cooking lamb, check. So productive! Never mind that all three things were for the same meal...

The dried beans in question were chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans (the little fellas that get mashed up to make hummus). They were reconstituted overnight and mashed up to go into falafel. Spiced chickpea patties or balls, falafel is a staple of many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. A fabulous vegetarian dish with the heartiness and protein to substitute for meat with added points for being healthy. It can be served in burger buns, replacing the burger patty, in pita bread as a sort of sandwich, or on its own with just a little drizzle of sauce.

Either way, yum.

Falafel with Lemon Sesame Yoghurt

Lemon Sesame Yoghurt:
1 cup yoghurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Combine ingredients in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to eat.

2 cups dried chickpeas (about 4 1/2 cups when cooked)
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 fairly packed cup chopped parsley
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons water

If you're using dried chickpeas, you'll have to soak them overnight. Put them in a medium sized bowl and cover with enough cold water so that they're a couple inches below the surface. Cover and let sit overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas (they should be a little more than double their original size) and put them in a medium saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about an hour. Drain and  allow to cool. The chickpeas can be cooked ahead and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple days.

Saute the onion in a little olive oil until translucent, then add the minced garlic and cook for another couple minutes. Remove pan from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, roughly mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or a sturdy fork (alternatively, you can use a food processor, on pulse so as not to overly mash them). There should be chunks, rather than a uniform mash, but no whole chickpeas.

Using a fork or a spoon, stir in the parsley and then the various spices. Be sure to thoroughly combine all the ingredients so that the flavoring is consistent throughout the mixture. Next, stir in the cooked onion and garlic (you might find it easier to use your hands for this part, as I did!)

Now add the flour (this binds the mix together so you can form patties) and a few tablespoons of water. You should be able to form balls of the falafel mixture without them immediately crumbling.

Cover with cling-film and refrigerate for at least half an hour. You can also do this in advance and leave in the fridge for a couple days.

To cook the falafel, heat a large saucepan and generously coat with olive oil (not so much that you're deep frying the falafel but enough to cover the whole surface of the pan). Remove the mixture from the fridge and form small patties with your hands (you might want a small bowl of water ready in case your hands get sticky!) You can make them whatever size you like (though if they're too big they're likely to fall apart), just be aware that larger patties will take longer to cook. Fry the patties for several minutes on each side, until they're a dark golden brown. If you're making several batches, you can keep them warm on a platter in the oven (turned to a low temperature!)

Serve while hot! The cooled patties will keep for a few day in fridge. You can reheat them in the microwave or the oven.

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