Make friends with falafel
Dunja Gulin serves up three vibrant variations on the Middle Eastern staple that everyone will love (particularly the vegans in your life!)
Perfectly Charred Falafel Burgers
There's nothing quite like biting into a big, juicy falafel burger! A cast-ironpan is essential for frying these - it means they need very little oil but won't stick to the pan. It also uniquely gives the delicious charred flavour.Makes 6 big burgers
260g cooked chickpeas, well drained
130g very finely grated beetroot
130g pre-soaked couscous (pour 120ml boiling water over 65g couscous, add a little salt, cover and let sit for 10 minutes)
70g good-quality breadcrumbs
2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Sunflower or coconut oil, for frying
6 wholewheat burger buns
Roasted red pepper and mustard sauce
Vegan (tofu) mayonnaise
Slices of fresh onion
Pickles and wooden barbecue sticks
In a food processor fitted with an 'S' blade, pulse the chickpeas. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients, except the frying oil. With your hands, knead the mixture thoroughly until well incorporated. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Form the mixture into 6 patties. I usually use a big cookie cutter or an American ƒ cup measuring cup for one burger - slightly oil the inside to prevent sticking, fill the cup and turn it over onto a baking sheet. Pat down to make a nicely shaped burger.
Preheat a cast-iron pan over medium heat. Pour in 1 tbsp oil and add 2-3 burgers (more if your pan is bigger). Fry for about 5 minutes each side, adding 1 tbsp more oil after the flip. Cook until the burgers are heated through, slightly charred and have a thin crust.
This is my serving suggestion for a real burger experience: while the pan is still hot, fry the inside of a wholewheat bun, spread the bottom part with red pepper and mustard sauce, add lettuce, top with the burger, spread tofu mayo on top, add fresh onion and top with the bun. Pierce with a wooden barbecue stick and add a couple of pickles. Serve with super simple salsa!
Pink Sun-seed Falafel
You'll love this vegetable-rich recipe! Another raw version of healthier falafel bites that will surprise and impress even the most sceptical eaters. These pink falafels are a perfect lunchbox/picnic item, served with herb and avocado or hummus, a juicy summer salad of ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumber, leaves and slightly bitter olives. Or, in winter, pair with a hearty soup for a quick lunch or light dinner.
Makes 16 small falafels
140g sunflower seeds (raw or slightly sprouted)
2 small carrots (about 60g)
½ raw beetroot (about 80g)
35g ground flaxseed
Grated zest of 1 organic orange
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp freshly snipped chives
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp tahini (or toasted, ground sesame seeds)
1 tbsp olive oil (if using ground sesame seeds instead of tahini)
1 tsp umeboshi vinegar (optional)
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp raw sesame seeds, for sprinkling
In a food processor fitted with an 'S' blade, separately chop the sunflower seeds (you want a slightly chunky consistency), then the carrots with the beetroot. Mix together in a bowl, then add the ground flaxseed, orange zest and juice, chives, spices, tahini/ground sesame and oil (if using) and combine all the ingredients (except for the raw sesame seeds for sprinkling) into a compact paste.
Form 16 small balls with moist hands, then flatten them slightly. Sprinkle the top of each falafel with raw sesame seeds, and place on the lined dehydrator or baking sheet.
Dehydrate on 60°C (140°F) for 1 hour, lower to 45°C (115°F) and continue dehydrating until the falafels form a crust, with a still slightly moist inside (takes 4-5 additional hours).
(Alternatively, use the oven: turn it to the lowest setting and put in the baking sheet with falafels, wedging the door open with a rolled-up dish towel to prevent overheating.)
Greek-style Falafel Fritters
How 'Greek' this courgette falafel actually is I have no idea, but the courgette base, the chickpea addition and the yoghurt-cucumber serving sauce made me think of one hot summer I spent in Greece a long time ago, enjoying amazing home-cooked food!
Makes 14-16 fritters
560g grated courgette
1 tsp salt, plus extra to taste
4 tbsp freshly chopped parsley leaves
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
80g gram flour (chickpea flour)
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for shallow-frying
Serving suggestion: Tzatziki (yoghurt and cucumber sauce)
Freshly chopped coriander
Put the grated courgette in a bowl, add the teaspoon of salt, mix well and let sit for 10 minutes.
Squeeze out most of the courgette juice and discard. Add the parsley, turmeric, cumin, coriander, flour, pepper and more salt to taste, then quickly mix with a spatula. With the help of a small round cookie cutter or a measuring tablespoon, form 14-16 even-sized patties and flatten them down a bit.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add a little olive oil and fry the falafels for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Serve with tzatziki, lemon wedges, coriander and flatbreads, or whichever way you like!