When it comes to chickpeas there seem to be 2 distinct camps - you either love 'em or hate 'em! Personally, I could eat them everyday, but I know plenty of people who would not touch them. Not even with a very, very long barge pole.
I was very proud when my daughter recently joined "Team Chickpea". We were enjoying a braai with some friends when she decided to help herself to some falafel from a platter on the table. The first few bites were tentative, but before we knew it the whole thing had disappeared and she was going back for seconds!
It was that little incident that inspired me to put this recipe together. I must be very honest and say that I am not entirely sure what constitutes an authentic falafel recipe, especially in terms of the herbs and spices used, or whether this comes close. I simply added what I thought would taste good.
I am a sucker for yoghurt based dressings and created a tahini yoghurt dressing with fresh mint and lime juice to go with the dish. I also tried my hand at home made tahini paste which is essentially made of sesame seeds and olive oil. If you don't feel like making it from scratch then I'm sure a store-bought version would be fine - just remember to taste the yoghurt dressing and adjust the amount you add if necessary.
Just a note here - I have attempted this recipe with tinned chickpeas and the results were, in a word, diabolical. The chickpeas turned into hummus and I ended up with mushy falafel that disintegrated when fried. Huge falafel fail. Please don't be put off by the fact that you need to soak the chickpeas in this recipe. It is not exactly a lot of work, it just requires a little forward planning.
So there you go. A tasty snack or meal option for the New Year.
FALAFEL with MINTED TAHINI YOGHURT
Makes approximately 20
250g dried chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp flour
sunflower oil for frying
For the yoghurt:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup plain or Greek yoghurt
20ml finely chopped mint
1 tsp lime juice
salt and pepper
Step 1.) Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Leave to stand for 24 hours, topping up the water if necessary.
Step 2.) Drain the chickpeas and place them in a food processor. Chop until they have a coarse crumb-like texture, then tip into a clean bowl and set aside.
Step 3.) Place the shallot, parsley, garlic cloves, a good pinch of salt and pepper, cumin, coriander, nutmeg and lime juice in the food processor and pulse until you have a fine mixture. Add the flour and mix until well combined.
Step 4.) Add the chickpeas back into the food processor and pulse everything together to get a slightly finer texture and get rid of any large chickpea chunks, Do not over process.
Step 5.) Shape the mixture into balls. Pop them onto a tray and then into the fridge for about an hour, or until they are firm.
Step 6.) Meanwhile prepare the tahini: toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a low hear, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes or until they are golden in colour. Transfer to a food processor and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Blitz to combine the seeds and oil into a paste. Add extra olive oil if the paste is too thick. Set the tahini aside in the fridge.
Step 7.) Make the yoghurt dressing by combining the yoghurt, 2 tablespoons of tahini, mint and lime juice in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside in the fridge.
Step 8.) Heat 1 - 2cm sunflower oil in a frying pan. Fry the falafel in batches, turning them until they are golden on all sides. Drain the falafel on kitchen towel and serve immediately with minted tahini yoghurt.