Monday, August 31, 2009

August 30, 2009: Felafel with yoghurt sauce

One of the meals generously cooked for me on my recent trip to Brisbane was felafel and fattoush (with crispy fried pita), by Beth and Ryan. While I devoted most of my attention to catching up with everyone round the table, it was difficult not to notice that these were the best felafel I had ever tasted. It wasn't obvious why, exactly - perhaps the fresh-out-of-the-fryer timing, the sesame seed coating, or the fresh herbs in the batter. (Maybe - just maybe - it was the soaked dry chickpeas but I'm not ready to admit that possibility.) Whatever it was, I was pretty excited that I might be able to replicate this at home. Beth mentioned that she found the recipe on The Cook and the Chef website, so it was no trouble to track it down.

Beth did an admirable job of soaking chickpeas overnight and carefully deep-frying the felafel - both firsts for her! By contrast, I lazily cracked open a couple of chickpea cans and had a go at baking these critters, as much for the reduced mess as the reduced calories. If you really crank up the oven, it's possible to develop a bit of that crunchy crust. Not quite as magnificent as Beth's rendition, but still rather good. What surprised me was how great the leftover (yes, singular) tasted the next day - less crunchy, of course, but the tender herbed centre really came to the fore. So make a lot and resist the temptation to eat them all and completely smother them in sauce!

Sauce? Funnily enough Simon's sauce is very similar to my own preferred felafel condiment, a mixture of yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice and leftover herbs - he took it further by adding a neat garnishing sprinkle of smoked paprika. A completely different, but equally awesome and additionally vegan-friendly, felafel dipper is muhammara. To fill it all out and call it a meal, I'd recommend the eat-anywhere quinoa (or couscous) salad.

Felafel with yoghurt sauce
(based on Simon's recipe from The Cook and the Chef)

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 green chillies, seeds removed and chillies chopped
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
sesame seeds
salt and pepper, to taste
spray oil

yoghurt sauce
150g natural yoghurt
3 tablespoons tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons leftover herbs (parsley, coriander, mint), chopped
a shake or two of smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to a very hot temperature - something like 250ºC.

In a food processor, blend together the onion, garlic, fresh herbs, ground coriander and cumin, and the chillies. Add the chickpeas and blend further - I actually couldn't fit all the chickpeas in the food processor at once, so I removed half of the spice paste and continued making the felafel dough in two batches. After the chickpeas, add the flour and baking powder, processing until the mixture starts coming together as a slightly mushy dough. Season, to taste.

Line a baking tray with paper and spray it lightly with oil. Form the chickpea mixture into balls, pressing them slightly flat and rolling them in the sesame seeds, before placing them on the baking tray. Give them a brief spray of oil on top. Bake the felafel for about 30 minutes, flipping them once at half time, until they're golden brown and develop a just-barely-cracking crust. At this heat, it's best to keep an eye on them and use your own judgement on when they're ready.

While the felafel are baking, whisk together the yoghurt, tahini and lemon juice. Stir through the herbs and sprinkle the smoked paprika over the top. Serve alongside the felafel.


  1. I'm always on the look-out for baked falafel recipes Cindy, so I shall definitely be trying these. I love falafels. In fact it's probably fairer to say I *adore* falafels. But can't deal with the deep fat frying at home. And usually the baked ones turn out so roof-of-the-mouth-sticking-ly dry.

  2. Oh yeah, I'm definitely going to try this - especially since we can use canned and not dried chickpeas. :o)

  3. love your version - I quake at deep frying but have noticed in our local falafel shop they use lots of herbs so I love this version

  4. Yum! I love falafel, but I've never been convinced of the ones that are baked instead of deep fried... these ones sound particularly good though so I might have to give it another chance!

  5. Kathryn, you might consider these a little dry when freshly baked but they're surprisingly moist the day after. :-)

    Hope you like 'em, Steph!

    Thanks Johanna! The fresh herbs make a very different felafel to the just-add-water ones I've been making for years.

    Hannah, they're worth a shot but you could always revert to deep-frying these anyway - they are amazing if you can bear the mess!

  6. I make mine with pre soaked over night chickpeas. It's time consuming as well as the deep frying aspect is concerning. I really like the look of your recipe and I am moved to make it.

    1. Thanks, wild herb woman! If you give it a go, I hope you'll come back and tell us how they turned out. :-)