Falafels are baked little vegetarian balls, that are usually stuffed into a pita and served with hummus. They are traditionally deep fried and made with chickpeas, but as in this recipe can also be substituted with lentils and baked.
I have always had an admiration for middle eastern cuisine. I am a huge sauce girl and dipping girl, so this cuisine definitely has me hooked on all of their dips. Hummus, baba-ganoush, walnut pomegranate dip, Tzatziki, you name it. The more garlic and zest, the more I grab a second slice of bread and slather it on there.
I love the fearlessness of their use of spices. Each dish has a different taste and is always bold in flavour. My husband is from Iran, and I have to say their cuisine is largely focused on their rice dishes. I mean I used to just boil a cup of basmati rice in plain water and called it a day, but now I have a new understanding of what rice actually is. I am quite a patient learner when it comes to cooking and am open for lengthy and complicated recipes, but I have never been more beat than when it comes to making Persian rice. Not only is it complicated to make, for me at least, but it usually becomes the centre piece of the meal, where the meat becomes the side attraction.
One day I will master this rice and become a bit more daring when it comes to creating middle eastern dishes.
Now back to falafel. Falafel is super simple to make, and you can obviously make it in many ways. The indulgent side of me, loves the falafel you get at the Döner Kebab you find at every corner, as they are deep fried - crispy balls of joy. However, this does not really go well with my waistline, so I decided to make baked falafel for dinner the other night.
I have to say, they did not disappoint. The lentils gave the falafel an even more intense flavour than the chickpea falafel I am used to and combined with the hot chili and cilantro the tastes blended perfectly. I think its important to not cut yourself off from your favourite “cheat day” treats as there almost always is a way to make a healthier option at home.
Baked Lentil Falafel with Zesty Cucumber Yoghurt
Baked Lentil Falafel
2 cups canned lentils, cleaned and drained
1 handful parsley
1 handful cilantro
1/2 red chili, deseeded if you want less heat
2 garlic cloves
1/2 lemon, juice
2 tbsp olive oil + extra for baking
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 180 C
In a pulsing machine or blender add all your ingredients and pulse until you have a smooth consistency. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add flour, one spoonful at a time and mix until you have a dough you can handle and is not too sticky. Create small balls with the mixture and transfer to a baking sheet. Drizzle the tops of the falafel balls with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip falafel and drizzle with olive oil. Bake again for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven.
Zesty Cucumber Yoghurt
1/2 cucumber grated
1/2 lemon, juice
1 cup full fat yoghurt
Salt and Pepper
In a fine strainer, add the grated cucumber and remove all the excess water. Transfer to a medium bowl and add all your ingredients and stir. Place into refrigerator until you are ready to use.