My friend N will be passing through Vancouver on her big North American vacation this summer. I’m really excited; we have a date to make these baked potato falafel, but with sweet potatoes. N and I met a few years ago trying on Maison Margiela boots at one of the grand magasins. I clearly couldn’t afford them, even on solde; yet she managed to convince me that the boots would change my life, almost. Later, she helped me navigate the purchase of my first pair of Repetto oxfords, a more practical choice.
We met again that same day, at the City Pharma in St. Germain! Clutching our coveted French beauty products in the hot cramped store, she decided it was a sign, we were supposed to be friends. A few days later, we had drinks at a cosy bar filled with books on art, philosophy and French literary classics in the Marais – we drank rosé with tapas and talked all night. She’d moved to Paris from Montreal for love, and was getting married that winter.
Once when I was looking for someplace to grab a quick bite on a day-trip to London she recommended Leon, a great fast-food chain with healthy fresh vegetarian options – “try their sweet potato falafel, it’ll change your life!” she said.
The sweet potato falafel from Leon didn’t quite change my life, but it made an impact enough that I gushed about it for a while.
The savoury and slightly sweet falafels are baked, soft inside with a lightly crispy texture on the outside and so very satisfying.
Last year I found the recipe for the falafels and started experimenting; first I made the sweet potato falafels which were as incredible as I remembered. It’s great as an appetizer with a tangy tahini dip or stuffed in a veggie loaded sandwich, it’s wonderful tossed in a salad too. If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, you already know that I’m a fan of the falafel, so I couldn’t just stop there.
The idea to make them with regular white potatoes comes from these yam balls we make in Ghana. Creamy mashed yam with savoury spices and filling fried to a crispy shell, it’s awesome at parties – makes great hors d’oeuvres
I’ve replaced sweet potatoes with white potatoes in this recipe. Like the original recipe, I bake them, so they are a little like twice-baked potatoes, then mash them with chickpea flour and a generous heady mix of spices. I like that it’s not too onerous to pull together, and they can be used in a variety of ways. They’re also great to snack on dipped in sriracha, ketchup or mustard and absolutely delicious in salads; I make a special tahini dressing for it.
Next time, I want to add a little bit of avocado, I feel like it’ll play well with the flavours here.
- 3 – 4 medium russet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lbs. in total
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- 1 cup chickpea flour, or more (I used toasted chickpea flour)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- Olive oil spray, optional
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Scrub potatoes clean and prick all over with a fork
- Arrange potatoes in a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and lightly oiled
- Roast until tender and easily pierced with a fork or toothpick, about 50 – 60 minutes
- Allow potatoes to cool enough to handle
- Cut potatoes in half and scoop the insides in to a large bowl
- Add lemon juice and olive oil
- Add cumin, coriander, chopped cilantro, pepper flakes, ginger, and turmeric, mix together a few times with a spatula
- Add in onion, garlic, chickpea flour and salt
- Mash until mixture is smooth with no lumps
- Check seasoning and adjust to taste (caution, raw chickpea flour tastes awful!)
- Refrigerate for up to an hour or freeze for 20 – 30 minutes for dough to firm up
- Meanwhile reheat oven to 425 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
- Refrigerated mixture should be sticky and not too wet, add a tablespoon or more chickpea flour if your dough feels too wet to hold together (to shape into a ball)
- Using your hand, ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop about 2 tablespoon full of the mixture, roll into a ball (use your hand if desired) and place on prepared baking sheet, repeat with the rest of the mixture
- Spray falafels with a light coating of olive oil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned and bases are golden brown