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Falafel Balls with Tahini Sauce

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Description

Falafel Balls and hummus are two Middle Eastern specialties that have become popular around the world and I love them both. During the summer I was making up different Mediterranean Bowls for dinner and I wanted to add falafel balls. They are naturally gluten free (most often) and contain chickpea flour (an under used ingredient in my pantry). Also, they are high in protein and fibre and people on a gluten free diet generally want more fibre.

Finally, here’s my recipe for falafel balls.

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Pantry Staples

Home cooking requires pantry staples and a little bit of planning. To make this recipe you need tahini and chickpea flour (read more about that in my post – How To Use Chickpea Flour). These ingredients are not hard to find but once you get them you’ll want to make a point of learning a few different ways to use them.

Canned vs Dried Chickpeas

Many cooks insist that soaking dried beans gives a superior result in all sorts of recipes. For me the convenience of canned beans wins hands down for all of my everyday recipes like these:

A dish of gluten free lemony hummus topped with a drizzle of olive oil
Lemony Hummus -photo credit

So naturally I was disappointed to learn that that cooks around the world agree that canned chickpeas make soggy falafel balls. Fluffy falafel balls are best made with dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight. Darn it!

Of course I’m capable of soaking beans overnight as you are too. So I bought the bag of dried chickpeas and committed to making my falafel recipe twice. The plan is to avoid having half a bag of chickpeas in the back of my cupboard for three years (or more).

What Is Tahini?

Tahini is a paste made from ground, roasted sesame seed and sold in jars and tubs in grocery stores and shops specializing in Middle Eastern ingredients. All the brands I’ve seen list nothing more than sesame seeds on the ingredient label making it naturally gluten free.

Tahini is an ingredient in hummus so right there you have a way to use it up. It can also be used to make a dipping sauce like I did here, as a drizzle on top of roasted vegetables and even in salad dressing. You don’t need to buy a huge jar, just look a little further and you’ll find a nice small one that won’t take up space in your fridge for three years.

Deep-Fried, Pan-Fried or Oven Baked

Traditionally deep-fried, falafel are crispy round balls that are moist inside. But people always tell me they are intimidated by deep fried recipes and likely to skip over them. I’ve written about deep frying  in several posts and outlined my streamlined method. For this version of falafel balls I wanted to compare pan-frying and baking.

It took a bit of time to pan-fry these in small batches and the balls didn’t maintain their round shape. The result was nice and moist but it would be easier to shape them into small patties. I think I’ll try that another time.

Baking falafel balls in the oven was easy but they were too crunchy on the outside and a bit too dry inside. Although the taste was fine I’ll say oven baked is not my preferred method.

Get The Tools

To get this job done I used my food processor to coarsely grind the chickpea mixture. For the balls I used a small metal scoop with a thumb grip to make a consistent size. This gives a rounded top with a flat bottom so they can then be flattened into disks or rolled into round balls.

So, are you up for making falafel balls for the first time? They are a nutritious snack or lunch item but also make a beautiful appetizer tray. Let me know how it went in the comments below.

Ingredients

16 oz/454 g dried chickpeas
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp cumin
½ Tbsp coriander
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ cup chickpea flour
2 Tbsp tahini
TAHINI SAUCE
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup water
COOKING – oil for frying

Directions

1
Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with lots of water. Soak overnight (12-24 hours). Choose a bowl large enough for them to triple in size and still be in water.
2
Drain the chickpeas.
3
In food processor bowl add chickpeas, onion and garlic. Work in batches if needed.
4
Process until roughly chopped.
5
Add parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne. Process until well combined and evenly green in colour.
6
Add chickpea flour and tahini. Process until evenly mixed.
7
Transfer mixture to a bowl. Using a portion scoop drop balls of dough onto a tray. Roll with your hands into round balls or flatten slightly with a flipper to make small disks. Makes about 36 balls.
8
TAHINI SAUCE – Combine tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup and garlic in blender cup. With motor running slowly add water and blend until smooth. Set aside.
9
PAN-FRIED METHOD – Using 2 frying pans, heat 1-2 Tbsp oil in each pan over medium heat. Without crowding, fry falafel balls turning every few minutes until nicely browned on all sides. Serve warm or room temperature.
10
DEEP- FRIED METHOD – Heat oil to 350°F. Fry in batches until nicely browned, turning as needed, about 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
11
BAKED METHOD
12
Preheat oven to 400°F. Portion falafel balls directly onto a parchment lined baking tray. Bake 15 minutes, turn and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown all over. Serve warm or at room temperature.
13
SERVING – Serve as an appetizer with tahini sauce.

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