Jenny Chandler, demo chef and UN pulse ambassador, shares her take on the classic snack
These can be dished up in the traditionally manner—opening up a pitta bread and dropping in the falafel with a salad of crisp lettuce, cucumber and tomato, some tarator sauce and a dash of chilli—but they’re also perfect served as an accompaniment to drinks, with a little tatziki or harissa to dip into. It’s worth making a double quantity and freezing some of the mixture to shape at a later date—ready shaped frozen falafel tend to break up in the pan, but they can be brushed with oil and baked in a hot oven.
300g dried, split fava beans, soaked in cold water for 24 hours
1 small chilli, finely chopped, or a good pinch of cayenne pepper
6 spring onions, finely chopped,
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, or a large handful of wild garlic, roughly chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground
1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1 large handful of parsley, chopped
1 large handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbsp chickpea flour (also known as gram flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Sunflower or olive oil for frying
Drain the beans and place them in a food processor with all the remaining ingredients bar the oil. Now whizz everything up to a green paste, stopping when you have a sticky but still slightly granular texture. Pounding and mincing by hand is an option but you’d have to be super-keen.
Taste and balance the seasoning and then leave the mixture to rest for about half an hour.
Now for the production line: scoop spoonfuls of the paste, roll it into walnut-sized balls, flatten them slightly and place on a tray. Continue until you have finished the mixture, but don’t be tempted to upsize otherwise the centre will never cook through.
Heat enough oil to deep fry your falafel a few at a time (180C if you have a thermometer). Test with one first—the oil should sizzle around it. Add the falafel in batches and cook for about 4-5 mins until deep gold. Serve while hot.
ALTERNATIVE: if deep frying is just not your thing I have had reasonable success shallow frying too, you will obviously have to turn the falafel but also extend the cooking time a little to ensure that the centre cooks through.
Recipe: Jenny Chandler