By Tal Kalderon
This recipe was inspired by a fantastic falafel place I loved in Yehuda Halevi Street in Tel Aviv in the 1990s. The restaurant owner wanted to create falafel with a difference and came up with two kinds of falafel: green falafel, made with lots of coriander and orange falafel which contained sweet potato. The salads were fresh and healthy and were a welcome change from the usual side dishes of cabbage and chips you find at most falafel bars. Unfortunately, the restaurant has now closed down.
It wasn’t until I came to the UK in 1999 to study at Aberdeen University that I made falafel for the first time. My uni friends loved it. You certainly couldn’t buy falafel in Aberdeen.
Since my son Ilay and I have become involved in Wimbledon Synagogue, I’ve made some large batches of falafel for some synagogue events, like the Hanukkah Fair and a Children’s Fun Day. Even when I made this recipe with 3.5kg of chickpeas, the falafel sold out pretty quickly.
It’s great served with sweet potato chips, Israeli/Arabic salad, tahina, humous and pitta breads.
For approximately 60 falafels
- 1 kg of chick peas (If you don’t have the time to soak the chickpeas over night, you can boil them with bicarbonate of soda until softened or use tinned ones)
- 1 large head of garlic, peeled (optional)
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 1 bunch coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, freshly ground ( I used white pepper instead)
- Vegetable oil for frying
The night/day before: soak the chickpeas in a large bowl in plenty of cold water and leave in the fridge over night. Check occasionally to see there is enough water to cover all the chickpeas as they swell up.
On the day: Drain the chickpeas, rinse well in cold water and pat dry.
Using a magimix, or food processor, grind the chickpeas, garlic (if using) and onion. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the spices and mix well.
At this stage, you can refrigerate the mixture till you are ready to fry.
Just before you are ready to cook them, stir in the chopped coriander. If you find the mixture is too thin, you can add a little flour.
Using a spoon or by hand, form the falafel into balls.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok. As falafel are deep fried, the oil should be at least double the depth of the falafel. You can check if the oil is hot enough by dipping a wooden spoon into the oil, bubbles should form around the spoon.
Place a few falafel into the hot oil. Fry until golden (approximately three minutes), turning them in the oil, then remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with some paper towel.
They are best eaten straight away but you could keep them warm in the oven for a little while.
Sweet potato chips
Peel some sweet potatoes and cut them into wedges.
If you have lots of oil left from the falafel, simply fry them in the same pan. Alternatively, shallow fry, or place on a baking tray, coat in oil and bake in a hot oven for approximately 30 minutes or until soft.
The main characteristic of this type of salad is that the vegetables are cut into very small chunks. You can vary what and how much you use but here are my suggestions.
- 2 large tomatoes (you cut them first and leave them at the bottom of a bowl, otherwise the juice will spoil the freshness of other vegetables)
- 1 cucumber with the skin on.
- 1-2 yellow peppers.
- 1 radish.
- 2-3 spring onions.
- Mint leaves or flat parsley, as little or as much as you like.
- Juice from 1 lemon
- At least 4 table spoons of good extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Cut the vegetables into ½ cm chunks. Add the chopped herbs, lemon, olive oil and seasoning. Combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature within 1-2 hours of making it.