Falafel in Pita

Vegan Mofo 201 – Day 12

Falafel is one of the universal vegan foods. I’ve been lucky enough to have falafel on 4 different continents and in more than half a dozen countries. But once you have a great falafel it’s very hard not to get disappointed with the hard, dry and tasteless falafel balls that some places serve. So for everyone that has never made falafel balls from scratch here’s a recipe that I’ve been using for years and it’s far nicer than any ready-made or instant variety that I’ve ever tried.

Falafel Sandwich – this is a sandwich version of the popular Middle Eastern dish. Vary the proportion of the ingredients to suit your taste.

4 pita breads
1 cup hummus
1 cup tahina sauce (NB : Tahina sauce not Tahini – otherwise extra hummus will do)
16 falafels
1/2 cup chopped onions (red onions add the best flavour)
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped cabbage
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
Chilli sauce, to taste

Falafel balls :
2 cups (440g) dried chickpeas
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon baking powder
Your favourite kind of vegetable oil for deep frying (canola or sunflower would suffice)

Soak the chickpeas in 1 litre of water for 5 or 6 hours or overnight. Drain and then place in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds, or until finely ground.
Add the onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, baking powder and 1 tablespoon of water, then process for 10 seconds, or until a rough paste has been formed.
Leave covered for 30 seconds.
Using your hands, shape heaped tablespoons of the falafel mixture into even shaped balls. If there is any excess liquid, squeeze it out.
Fill a large heavy-based saucepan one third full of oil and heat until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds.
Lower falafel balls into the oil and cook in batches of five for 3-4 minutes, or until well browned all over.
Remove the falafel with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

• Warm up the pita breads. Cut off the top inch of each pita bread.
• Spread about 2 tablespoons of the hummus inside each pita bread and put 1/4 portions of all the ingredients inside each.
• Top with about 2 tablespoons of tahina.
Serve immediately.

If you like your food with a bit of an extra kick try adding some dried chilli flakes or dried ground chilli into the falafel mixture before blending.

You can also add some freshly chopped chillies in with the other chopped vegetables.

The quantities you add will depend on how HOT you like it.

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