Chickpeas remind me of my childhood. I remember there was an old lady, who used to come by my school at the end of the day, selling fresh chickpeas when they were in season. She would have picked them up from her family’s fields that same morning. She would be standing there, a couple of metres away from the school gate, with a big old baby stroller full of fresh chickpeas and sell them to the excited schoolchildren after a hard day at school! 🙂
I remember having a big bunch of chickpea plant in our hands and we would eagerly pop the chickpeas out of their little pod, while walking back home. It was truly one of the simple joys! 🙂
And since then I still like chickpeas and try to include them in various dishes. I use both dried and canned chickpeas, depending on what I am cooking and sometimes depending on what is most convenient.
When making falafel, I normally like to use dried chickpeas because I feel they give more taste. But there is just one more step to do… you have to soak them and cook them first! When I forget to soak them beforehand, I then opt for the canned ones and this is where convenience comes in. Make sure they are properly rinsed and drained before using them.
When it comes to spices to add to the falafel, you will find a lot of recipes which may vary slightly between each other. I usually like to add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, chili pepper flakes and smoked paprika. I always prefer to buy whole spices and grind them myself as they give a more pungent taste. However, the ready ground spices will also do the trick!
Falafel are traditionally deep fried. Although I love the traditional way, it is not ideal if you try to keep to healthy eating. So this baked version drastically reduces the amount of oil involved, as no oil is required to cook them.
I find feta cheese is great to accompany these falafel. It adds some tanginess and slight saltiness. Sometimes I just crumble it on top and other times I whip it up in an easy and simple sauce – crumble some feta cheese, add a couple of tablespoons of natural yoghurt, chili pepper flakes, chopped fresh parsley and freshly ground pepper… and voilà the sauce is ready!
These baked falafel are ideal for lunch or dinner, add them to salads or stuff some warm pita bread with these golden nuggets. They are also great for packed lunches or as a healthy snack! 🙂
The baked version of the yummy fried falafel
- 200g dried chickpeas
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 spring onions
- Bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 large egg
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp chili pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3-4 tbsp wholemeal flour
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Soak the chickpeas for a couple of hours and then cook them until soft and tender.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Roughly chop the garlic, spring onions and parsley.
- In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, garlic, spring onions, parsley, egg, lemon, olive oil, spices and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until they are well combined and a chunky mixture is formed.
- Add the baking power and 3 tablespoons of flour. Combine everything together. Check the mixture to see if you need an additional tablespoon of flour.
- Scoop out some of the mixture and form it into a ball. Place it on a baking paper on a baking sheet and flatten it slightly. Repeat with the remaining mixture, leaving at least an inch apart.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden and crispy on the outside.
- Serve on a green salad or in warm pita bread alongside your favourite sauce.