Falafel made with flavours from the Middle East are so intriguing but carrot and coriander falafel are a favourite in our household. Falafel can vary from extremely sweet to extremely spicy. Aromatic herbs combined with pungent spices and pulses and nuts makes these dishes tasty as well as healthy. You can smell the aromas coming from the kitchen ….before the dish is even completed and I have to stop myself from devouring them before dinner is served!
The first time I tasted falafel it was dry and bland and obviously made from a packet. So I put it out of my mind. Until I tried it in a Lebanese restaurant and was blown away! It was slightly baked on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. You can eat a falafel in so many different ways… as street food on its own, in a salad, as a burger or as a pitta bread sandwich. Yet our favourite is wrapped in crispy lettuce. In fact any way you want. I prefer it to meat and it can be deliciously spicy and dipped in a cooling feta and yogurt dip or deliciously sweet and pungent dipped in a spicy dip just like my recipes for these dips.
I’ve always loved the combination of carrot and coriander as the coriander adds flavour to the carrot and the sweetness of the carrot is perfect combined with the spice mix Ras el Hanout. It is a mix of cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg, paprika, cardamon, cloves, allspice and fenugreek and can be found in any Moroccan store or supermarket. But if you can’t find any then it’s easy to make your own.
Originating in the Middle East, falafel is high in protein and fibre and is the perfect vegetarian alternative to meat street food. It is perfect as a snack, an appetiser or as a meal served with couscous. We prefer it baked for health reasons. If you have a fussy eater in the house say nothing, put it in a wrap and they’ll never even notice! There’s never enough falafel in our house!
Go on… take the plunge … we think falafel should be part of every family’s diet!
- 300g (1 generous cup) carrots, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small chilli, optional
- 1 large handful parsley
- 1 large handful coriander/cilantro
- 1½ teaspoons Ras el Hanout
- 60g (½ cup) pistachios
- 60g (½ cup) almonds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- grated zest from ½ lime
- 250g 1½ cup cooked chickpeas
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Toasted and black sesame seeds, optional
- Steam the carrots for 15 minutes or until just cooked.
- Preheat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F.
- Place the garlic, deseeded chilli (if using) and herbs in a food processor and whizz until well chopped.
- Add the nuts and process until chopped but not too smooth.
- Add all your remaining ingredients (except the sesame seeds) and process on slow until well combined.
- Roll into balls and if using then roll in sesame seeds.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes until crusty on the outside and soft in the middle.
- Serve with a cooling dip in your favourite way.
- If you want them extra spicy then use the chilli. If not then omit it as the Ras el Hanout provides delicious spice.
- We love to eat them wrapped in crispy lettuce or wholemeal pitta bread or served with couscous and a selection of dips.
- If your mixture is too wet then add a couple of tablespoons of spelt or gluten free flour