Lilly Higgins: Great balls of hot and crunchy falafel

These chickpea snacks are divine with a sesame seed coating for extra flavour and texture

I love making a chopped salad to go with this

I love making a chopped salad to go with this

 

There are many variations on falafel, the Middle Eastern deep-fried chickpea snack. I’ve been making them with recipes from Honey & Co, Ottolenghi and many more over the years. However the basic ingredients for traditional falafel are always the same: soaked chickpeas, onion, cumin and baking powder.

The amount and variety of spices can be different, depending on which recipe you look to. I love plenty of fresh parsley and coriander in mine, along with the warmth of cumin and fragrant cinnamon. The herbs give a beautiful green colour.

These are divine when eaten piping hot and crunchy, with the sesame seeds adding an extra layer of flavour and texture. The cooling creamy tahini sauce provides a perfect balance and is essential when eating falafel. I love to spread it on a warm flatbread then crumble the hot falafel over, or spread the sauce on a plate and place the falafel on top. 

I make a big jar of this tahini sauce at the start of the week and sometimes swirl it through yogurt or drizzle pomegranate molasses over it. It’s perfect for roasted or barbecued vegetables and meats. It also makes a great creamy dressing for kale salads. 

I’ve made falafel with cooked chickpeas in the past and, although they do still taste nice, it’s just not the same. It’s very easy to simply soak the chickpeas the night before or the morning of the day you need them. Falafel is an incredibly economical dish to make, especially if you’re buying dried chickpeas. Always pick over them and discard any that are dark and too shrivelled.

I love making a chopped salad to go with this: crunchy cubes of cucumber, tomato, radish and pomegranate seeds all dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice. It’s simple, satisfying, nutritious food that’s full of flavour.

Shaping the falafel with wet hands makes it easier to do, but if you find yourself making them regularly, invest in an aleb falafel, the traditional falafel mould, to scoop and shape each little patty before it gets fried. 

Recipe: Falafel with tahini sauce

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