Falafel, like hummus, is another food that I loved at first taste. It’s traditionally made of chickpeas, commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, made into a ball or patty, then either deep fried, pan fried, or baked. Then it’s served with flatbread such as pita or lafa, along with other raw vegetables, pickled vegetables and a tahini based sauce.
Falafel is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Chickpeas themselves are also low in fat and salt and contain no cholesterol – if you are using canned chickpeas, you have to rinse them thoroughly before use. Other key nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B, and folate, with phytochemicals such as beta-carotene. Unfortunately, like I mentioned before, chickpeas are not widely available in China yet. The only food I have seen is a snack from Xinjiang, the baked chickpea is advertised as a healthy food for lowering blood cholesterol.
I decided to experiment with chickpeas by adding other ingredients and using the traditional British condiment mint sauce in the sauce. The good thing is that I could make a whole batch, and freeze it, so later when I want to eat it, I can just take it out of freezer and fry it. Even though it was a pure experiment, I found it very tasty, and I love the adding of extra fiber from the wheat bran and oats. And if you have kids at home, it would be fun for them to roll the balls and flatten them with their hands. It’s always great to involve kids in cooking, so when they are older they know how to take care of themselves by feeding themselves healthy food. ;-)
Health Index: ⅘ (4 to 5 times a week)
Kitchen Gadgets: Food Processor
2 cans of chickpeas (400g per can)
¼ cup rolled oats
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ cup wheat bran
¼ cup wholewheat flour
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander seed powder
½ tumeric powder
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil for frying
6 tbsp soy yogurt
1 tbsp mint sauce
1 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1. Rinse the chickpeas and set a side. Crush the garlic, dice the celery.
2. Add the oats, wheat germ, wheat bran and flour into the food processor and process for a few seconds to mix.
3. Add the chickpeas, garlic, celery, cumin, coriander seeds, tumeric, canola oil and salt and process until well mixed and becomes a fine mass.
4. Scoop some mixture into ¼ cup, tip it out on to your hand and roll in form a ball, then flatten it between your palms.
5. Freeze them for 20 minutes. You can take the amount you want to eat right away but keep the rest frozen.
6. Preheat a stainless steel pan for 1-2 minutes, add 1 tbsp olive oil and turn the pan to coat the bottom of the pan, turn to a medium heat, add 2-3 patties, and fry for 10 minutes, or until both sides are hard and crispy.
7. In another bowl, add the yogurt, tahini and mint sauce and mix with a wire whisk.
8. Serve the falafel with fresh vegetables, tomato and tahini mint sauce.
Mint sauce is a traditional British condiment, if you can’t find it, you can try this recipe to make some of your own.
a bunch of fresh mint leaves
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp water
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
pinch of salt
1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until it becomes a sauce.