Since moving to the UK, where factory farming and unethical meat production processes are sadly the norm, we have been experimenting with ‘flexitarianism’ – eating mostly vegetarian meals, with some wild fish and the occasional piece of (very expensive) ethically reared meat. So far so good.
A lesson I have learned quickly is that there is no point trying to recreate traditionally meaty dishes using vegetables or pulses in place of the meat – chilli, shepherd’s pie, lasagne and so on. Instead it’s better to prepare dishes designed with vegetables in mind. Since switching to this practice we’ve been enjoying some really delicious dishes. Falafel is hard to top in terms of satisfaction.
There are many recipes floating around for falafel, and as a general rule if I’ve got some chickpeas hanging around I make it with whatever other ingredients I’ve got handy. I usually include some chopped coriander or parsley but this time around, I had none, so I went with the following recipe. This serves two, very generously.
1 can chickpeas, drained, and draining liquid reserved
Juice of half a lemon
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
Light olive oil
Blend your chickpeas and onions to a paste using a food processor. If you don’t have one, try using a hand held blender. Fold in the rest of the ingredients to form a pliable paste. You may need to add some of the liquid from the chickpeas to make the mixture move as you wish.
Heat plenty of light olive oil (not extra virgin) (1/2 – 1 cm) in a heavy bottomed pan and heat. Dispense tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil and cook gently for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and piping hot. Remove using a slotted spoon or spatula and drain on paper towel. You may need to prepare these patties in batches. Pop them in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder.
Serve in warm wraps or pitta breads. Good accompaniments include chopped tomatoes and onions, fresh leaves, hummus and tzatziki (cucumber with yoghurt, salt and mint). Some people (not me) also enjoy beetroot with it. Try not to fight over the last falafel. Nom!