When we were kids, my friend W’s dad used to say “easy falafel!” all the time, the way one would say easy peasy or as easy as pie. I didn’t know what a falafel was at the time but I liked the way it sounded so I went about saying “easy falafel” too.
When I had falafel for the first time years later, it was in a sandwich with lettuce, pickled onions and peppers and a tangy tahini dressing – there was nothing easy about it, in fact, it seemed complex and flavourful, and I loved it!
My favourite falafel joint is a renowned one on Rue des Rosiers; we go there so many times in the few weeks we spend in Paris that they recognize us now despite the millions of people who pass through there yearly. There’s a guy there who knows us by name, and because we’re African, this means we’re practically family now.
I never thought I would be making my own falafel, what I wanted was to find a great falafel spot here, like the one back in Paris that I could go to every once in a while, yet I was increasingly disappointed with the few falafel places in the city. So last summer when I saw a recipe for ‘easy falafel’, first I laughed, then I thought about them seriously, it was similar a chickpea burger I tried and loved a while ago.
Around that time we had a guest passing through town who was up for the adventure of preparing lunch together.
We decided on a Middle Eastern inspired lunch and quickly divvied up responsibilities. I took on the task of getting this chickpea and almond meal falafel with mint to the table.
This falafel doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, it’s just chickpea, some herbs and spices and almond meal to bind it, and unlike traditional falafel it’s baked, not fried. The falafel still turns out crunchy on the outside and tender and delicious on the inside.
Most of the work happens in the food processor (you definitely need one of those for this) and it takes a few short minutes.
That afternoon out on our little balcony, we feasted on falafel in flat-bread, with homemade hummus and pickled onions and a cole slaw mix and a light vinaigrette.
Since then we’ll have a little big lunch every once in a while featuring our ‘easy falafel.’
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water and well drained
- 1/3 cup chopped mint
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup almond meal (other nut meal or oat flour), for binding
- Olive oil spray, optional
- Combine chickpea, mint, onion and garlic in a food processor and pulse until mixture is coarsely ground
- Add pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger and allspice and pulse a few more times to mix
- Add olive oil and salt, and process until mixture is almost smooth and forms a thick paste, be careful not to over process it
- Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning as desired
- Add baking powder, and almond flour one tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together, it should still be fairly moist
- Refrigerate mixture for about 30 – 60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
- Using a spoon or ice-cream scoop, scoop about 2 tablespoons of falafel mixture (roll into a ball with your hand if desired) and place on prepared baking sheet, repeat with the rest of the mixture
- Spray falafels with a light coat of olive oil and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown
- Serve with tahini dressing and a salad or coleslaw, or on flatbread with your favourite toppings