You can make these easy vegan falafels and bake them in the oven if you want the healthy option but I am writing this post in deepest, darkest, coldest January and I want comfort food! My falafel were shallow fried in sunflower oil and drained on a clean tea towel to absorb any excess oil before nuzzling inside a warm pitta pocket. I added some crisp salad leaves, juicy tomato and a drizzle of tahini dressing and tried to take photographs as Bonus Boy circled me, impatiently – he’d already had his lunch, I wasn’t starving him, he’d just smelled cumin and onions wafting through the house and knew what that must mean – SECOND LUNCH!
What you can’t see in this photo is him grinning as he readied himself for a huge bite. I made 21 of these delicious little nibbles – between him, me and his sister they were all gone in half an hour! We packed three falafel into each pitta and ate two of those each. In theory that means there were three of our easy vegan falafels left over for Mr TS when he came home – there weren’t.
Chickpea Falafels have to be top of my vegan grab and go list. They are often to be found in a wrap or sandwich in motorway service stations and on supermarket shelves and they are my summer festival standby after a few beers on a sunny afternoon. They make an excellent vegan lunch, are a must for any self respecting vegan picnic and are the best quick munchie after a night out. If you can’t find anything to eat in the ready prepared sandwich aisle when you’re on the go, you can often find a box of falafels, some salad and a bread roll to construct your own. However, if you want to be prepared and take it all with you, the good news is, they are dead easy to make!
I’ve already shared my recipe for beetroot falafel with you and I like to shake it up a bit sometimes by making sweet potato falafels, adding in crunchy seeds and a few toasted pine nuts or by coating them with polenta for some added crunch but today I am sharing my simplest falafel recipe; the one I make without thinking about quantities, the one I always have the ingredients to hand for. I’ve written the recipe just for you but don’t feel bound by it – add some herbs and spices of your choice, make them with butter beans or cannellini, bake them instead of frying them – whatever takes your fancy. The only thing you need to know is that your falafel need to hold together, they need to be a little bit moist rather than dry and crumbly – if you get that right they will be crisp on the outside and delightfully soft on the inside – nobody wants a dry and boring falafel!
Chickpea Falafels, coated with breadcrumbs and fried - crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!
- 100 g/1 cup red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 450 g/3 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (you can just grab a handful of fresh parsley and bung it in to the food processor, I do!)
- 1-2 cloves garlic, or to taste (I like a lot of garlic, I know some people don't)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 - 1 tsp chilli powder to taste
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp gram flour
- 3 tbsp plant milk of your choice
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Enough sunflower oil to come halfway up your falafels - I can't give a quantity because it will depend upon the size of your frying pan
- Sliced tomatoes
- Fresh salad leaves
- Pitta bread (check it's vegan)
- tahini thinned with a little plant milk so it will drizzle nicely
Add all the falafel ingredients to a food processor and mix until you have a soft dough.
Take walnut sized pieces of dough and roll into balls, squash slightly to make little patties (you don't have to do this, they are perfectly happy as little balls but I think they fit into their pitta beds better as patties!)
Put the gram flour, milk and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls. Heat the oil in a large non stick frying pan. You will know the oil is hot enough when a breadcrumb dropped into it starts to sizzle and brown.
Roll each falafel in the flour, dip it into the milk and then coat it in breadcrumbs before popping it carefully into your pan and letting it sizzle away. Turn your falafels frequently until they are brown all over. Drain on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. It is best to fry them in two or three batches to keep the oil nice and hot.
Toast your pittas, open them up, stuff them with salad leaves, hot falafels and tomato slices, drizzle on a little tahini (or sauce of your choice - hot sauce is very good!) and dig in!
It’s well worth making a double quantity of these easy vegan falafels as they freeze really well. I freeze them after I’ve cooked and cooled them and then just reheat them in a fairly hot oven (about 180C/350F) for 10 -15 minutes until they are piping hot.
If you’re feeling fancy why not have a go at making your own pitta breads – you can see me making mine here – or jazz up your tahini a bit with this recipe for tahini dressing?
I’m drooling just looking at them actually – I guess it’s going to be easy vegan falafels for dinner tonight!