I absolutely love falafel. The problem? No matter how you turn it, deep fried chickpeas don’t become healthier by nature of being legume based. Therefore, deep fried chickpea goodness is still deep fried.
That being said, you can imagine my glee when Sabrina (the “Rhodey Girl”) posted a baked version of her uncle’s top secret falafel recipe. I’ve been trying to find the time to try out her recipe, and I finally was able to make (and photograph) my adventures in falafel land.
(By the way, the Rhodey Girl didn’t just post a recipe- she made a great video recipe post as well. Check the link below to get a more in depth falafel tutorial.)
I pretty much followed Sabrina’s recipe to the letter, but I didn’t have any parsley (she says to use about 1 cup) on hand so I left it out. In the future I think I will haul my ass down the street to Compare Foods for some fresh parsley, because I think the bright flavor from parsley will cut through some of the smokiness and heat from the other flavors.
(Oh, you want The Rhodey Girl’s Original Recipe?)
Yield: Roughly 4 servings of 5-6 falafel
1 15 oz. can of drained, rinsed chick peas
1/2 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs cumin
1/4 tbs coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tbs kosher salt
1/4 tbs black pepper
Parchment paper (Sabrina used cooking spray, but I am a firm believer in the power of parchment)
1. Mix all your ingredients in a food processor until it reaches a medium chunky consistency.
2. Put the batter in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes in a warm place until the batter has risen a bit. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
(I made my batter before class, and came back after about two hours. I don’t think this created a different taste.)
3. Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, drop small flattened balls of batter onto a cooking sheet covered with parchment paper
(The size of the falafel balls are of the utmost importance. If you make them too large- you know, like the fried balls of deliciousness served at your local Middle Eastern restaurant- they will not cook properly. Baking is very different from frying, and size matters.)
4. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
5. Pull out of the oven, burn your mouth because you are too eager, and eat greedily while watching reruns of The Office. Or Parks and Rec. Or Big Love. But probably The Office.
I paired my falafel with a side of quinoa dotted with dried cranberries. Oh, and a generous 2 tbsp of plain Greek yogurt.
Verdict? Well, while they were pretty delicious, I think the addition of parsley is pretty necessary. The flavor of baked falafel is pretty delicious, but don’t be fooled- they don’t taste the same as fried falafel. While they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, there is a flavor created by submerging items in liquid fat that is difficult to replicate.
That being said, if you are looking for a low fat take on a surprisingly not-that-healthy food, then go forth and conquer this recipe.