Monday, 27 June 2011

On the vegetarian side of life

Finding an exotic meatless centrepiece to please the vegetarian guests and make them feel like they too are getting something really special on the platter is usually a challenge to many of the passionate meat eaters. I am personally not a fan of meat replacement dishes but do admit, at the same time, that vegetarian food can also be very delicious and satisfying provided you prepare and serve it with the same passion and enthusiasm that you put in any other food of your own choice.

Todays recipe is not only ideal as a vegetarian main course but also has all the potential of becoming a favourite snack or sandwich/pita filling amongst the meat-lovers. The dish has its origins mainly in the Middle East but has meanwhile become one of the favourite street foods all around the globe. Yes, I am talking about the incredible Falafels!!!!

Its a family recipe handed down from my great mom-in-law who left us forever two years ago but I assume, she must have learned it from the locals during her stay in Kuwait years ago.  

Falafel with Layered Salad and Tahini Sauce


2 cups dried chickpeas
1 cup chopped green corriander
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 chopped medium sized onion
salt and crushed black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 chopped green chili
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbs dry corriander powder
4 tbs regular breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp baking soda

Oil for deep frying

Wash and soak the chickpeas in water and let soak for atleast 24 hours. They will triple in size. Drain away the water and wash them once again. Tip: please DO NOT use canned or boiled chickpeas. They have too much water and preservatives that we dont need here.

Transfer the beans to a food processor and chop until you get a fine crumbly texture.

Take corrainder, parsley, garlic cloves, onion and green chili and chop roughly.

Chop these together in a blender or food processor. Tip: you may use your meat grinder and mince the beans as well as other ingredients through it.

Mix all the ingredients together and add in salt, peppers, corriander and cumin powder. Also add breadcrumbs and mix well. Tip: you can also freeze the mixture at this stage for later use. Just add in the baking soda half an hour prior to frying.

Shape into round balls or ovals using two spoons or a falafel maker. You can also do this easily with your hands. Heat the oil for deep frying and set the heat to medium. Fry the falafels in it until browned and crispy from outside. Take out on a kitchen paper to drain the excess oil.

Serve hot with tahini sauce and fresh salad. People in Middle East might not like the way Ive served Falafels down in the picture but this is to show how your style of presenting a food can elevate simple nosh to a sublime level.

For the salad:
Slice a small onion, some fresh green cabbage or salad leaves of your choice. Also cut carrots and bell pepper as well as a small tomato into julienne strips and layer the vegetables on top of each other in a clear glass. Season with salt and crushed black pepper. And pour some tahini sauce on top and finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Serve the cold salad with crispy warm falafels.

Tahini - Yoghurt Sauce


1/2 cup yoghurt
2 tbs tahini paste
salt, pepper
fresh parsely to garnish
Tip: (Incase youre using a sweet yoghurt, add few drops of lemon juice to it)

Mix all the ingredients and make a paste. Your dip/sauce is ready!

Whether as filling in pitas or sandwiches, as tea snack, main course served with fresh salad and warm bread or an addition to an iftar menu, Falafels are a great sensation to the taste-buds!!!!


  1. I love the presentation! This is what I am making when someone comes over or even a different rainy day snack :D

  2. fatima,why did u use baking soda in it?plz tell

  3. @yasmeen For two reasons: it helps to cook the beans while frying (as they werent precooked) and also makes the falafels sightly fluffier and softer...

  4. I'm just getting up to go and soak the Chick peas.

  5. i hve bookmarked ur recipe...inshallah m gng 2 tryit will let u knw the feedback...thanx :)

  6. made ur recipe yesterday 4 iftaar it was gr8 my hubby & kids enjoyrd it a lot was sooo happy than u :))