Falafels are a simple ‘go to’ in any kitchen, the addition of fava beans changes things up a bit. Chickpeas are awesome, but fava beans are at least an equal. They also happen to be indigenous to the UK.
Anyone can eat falafels (almost), no matter what the food allergy or persuasion (carnivore or otherwise) EVERYONE loves a well crafted falafel with lashing of creamy yoghurt and preferably a warm wrap somewhere on the scene. They are almost always gluten free, dairy free, almost saturated fat free (depending on the oil usage) but packed with the flavours and textures that we adore.
The idea for Egyptian falafels made with fava beans came from one of my old bosses in London, Henry Dimbleby, and his ever tasty Guardian column. I used to work with Henry at Leon Restaurants and had a ball down there in the big smoke making healthy food for happy people. His article claims ‘the worlds best falafel recipe comes from Egypt’, something I whole heartedly agree with. I had some magical falafels over there in Cairo and surround, having said that, I am yet to visit Lebanon or Israel. There seems to be alot of competition in the falafel/ hummus stakes in this whole region. I have heard many a heated debate between various nations over bragging rights to the worlds finest chickpea creations.
Henry’s article is a quest to find the perfect falafel recipe and shows a great deal of passion for the subject. I remember Leon’s sweet potato falafels bringing about a u-turn in my falafel habits and opinion. I had once thought them late night, bland and stodgy, kebab shop fodder. I came to realise that a day without a Leon sweet potato falafel, was a day wasted!
FAVA BEANS – AS BRITISH AS A BEAN CAN BE
Really, they are. Fava beans have been growing in the UK since the iron age and would have probably been made into bread back then. Something I’d be interested to try out. They are Britain’s original bean. Its strange how these things just come up, but I was in our local shop and saw a new brand Hodmedod’s, I liked the look of them and noticed they were selling Black Badger Peas. Intriguing stuff. I bought some and loved their full flavour (like a big pigeon pea, normally used in Caribbean cooking). British peas and beans. How marvelous is that! I then noticed that they do split and whole fava beans and this recipe had to be made.
Split fava beans are perfect in in stews, dips, curries and can easily be made into a very flavourful daal. They are like lentils in many ways, they don’t need soaking which is perfect if you’re in a wee rush. Hodmedod’s have got some creative, global recipes on their site HERE.
Henry’s original recipe is brilliant and very easy to make. I, of course, had a little play and added a few tantalising twist and tasty turns. I’ve also toned down the oil usage to make them even shinier and healthy. Hodmedod’s have a really nice looking Egyptian Falafel recipe HERE.
Plenty of variations to try, but I think falafels are so easy and delicious, once you’ve made one batch, you’ll be hooked and want to try them all!
The falafels may seem a little crumbly when yo handle them, but they firm up in the fridge and pan. The ground coriander and gram flour help with this. Just “try a little tendernessssssssssss……”
The Bits – For 12 falafels
250g fava beans (soaked overnight, or at least 6 hours, in loads of water)
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion (finely diced)
1 carrot (grated)
1 ½ teas cumin seeds
2 ½ teas ground coriander
1 teas turmeric
1 teas dried mint
½ teas bicarb soda
2 tbs gram (chickpea) flour
1 big handful fresh coriander (soft stems and all – finely diced)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2-3 tbs sesame seeds
Extra oil for frying
Cucumber Yoghurt Sauce
6 tbs soya yoghurt
1/2 medium cucumber (grated)
½ lemon (zest)
1 tbs lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
½ handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)
In a large frying pan, on a medium heat, add the oil and warm, followed by the cumin seeds. Allow them to fry for 30 seconds and then add the onions and carrot. Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes, until they are soft and just getting caramelised. Add the ground coriander (not fresh) and turmeric to the pan, stir in and warm it all through for a minute. Take off the heat and leave to settle and cool a little.
Once cooled, add the carrot mix and the rest of the falafel ingredients to a food processor/ blender and blitz until almost smooth, but still ‘grainy’ and coarse. This will take a few goes, you will need to scrape down the side of your blender with a spatula.
Scatter the sesame seeds onto one plate and have another clean plate ready. Using your hands, make small, golf ball sized globes of falafel. Press them gently down into the sesame seeds, flip them over and get a decent coating. Pop the finished falafel on your clean plate and continue. Once the mix is finished, cover the falafels and place them in a fridge for an hour or more.
Mix all the yoghurt ingredients together in a nice bowl. Check seasoning. Jane loves lemon, so we are liberal with citrus.
Preheat an oven on a low heat (160oC) and line a baking tray with parchment and pop it in to warm.
Clean out your pan and warm on medium heat, then add roughly 1 tbs of olive oil. In a large frying pan, you should be able to fit 5-6 falafels comfortably. Don’t over fill or it becomes fiddly. Fry the falafels for 2-3 minutes each side. Using a flat spatula, loosen the falafels a little and flip them over. They will firm up in the pan, but need be handled gently. Place the falafels onto the warm baking tray and keep warm in the oven. Once the batches are finished, leave the falafels in the oven to warm through for 5 minutes. Moderate the amount of oil in your pan, you will need to add a bit more as the falafels love soaking it up.
We made some Peanut and Lime Hummus (recipe coming very soon) and a big salad to accompany these lovelies. A warm flat bread would also be nice. We would serve this with some of our Preserved Lemons, but they need another week.
Fava beans are used all over the world in dishes, especially in the countries around the Med. For some reason, they are not so popular in Britain, but I think that is going to change. Fava beans are more British than baked beans!!!
When legumes grow, they actually enrich the soil with nitrogen, fixing it. This means that they actually benefit the fertility of the soil as opposed to drain it. Legumes and pulses are incredible in that respect.
STOP THE PRESS – I’ve just read that Hodmedod’s are supplying British grown Quinoa. HOORAH! Quinoa is back on the Beach House menu.
(Just for the record, we only promote products we really like and will say if anyone has sent us freebies. Hodmedod’s, we just love the whole ethos and have received no bean-based bribes to promote their brilliant pulses. We want to support the good guys ’tis all!)