Monday, 12 May 2014

Saffron Pumpkin Seed Falafels

Falafels are God's gift to vegans.
Well, actually, technically it's Egypt's gift to vegans.  I think.  The actual origin of falafels are controversial.  Several Middle Eastern countries claim to have invented it, and indeed, you can find it everywhere in the Middle East from Lebanon to Syria to Jordan -- but I can't be bothered to do a thorough research on it at this hour and Wikipedia says it's Egypt, so I'm going to assume it's Egypt.

Wikipedia's wonderful little piece also tells us the current world record for the biggest falafel -- 74.75kg (164.4lb) -- made in Jordan.  That's a full grown man.  Imagine frying that sh*t (here's the actual news article on it if you're interested).

"Deep fried in 350L of vegetable oil" God damn.
"This is the second time Jordan entered the Guinness World Records this year.  In May, the Jordan Tourism Board achieved the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest sand art structure."

Oh Jordan, bless.

I've never been to the Middle East but would love to go just for the food. Jerusalem in particular, just because of Yotam Ottolenghi's short little documentary.   I'd happily survive on just street food. But hey, obviously Jordanians take their falafels quite seriously, so that may be a necessary place to visit too.

So my recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit.  Though traditional falafels are spiced with a mix of spices typically including cumin and coriander, this Bon Appetit one with saffron just caught my attention.  I was googling Saffron recipes, as I was still on that saffron craze, stumbled upon this and went to buy my ingredients. These are also baked so they're quite healthy, but deep fry them by all means for they'll be more delicious.  Also, I don't have vegetable oil at home, I do everything with olive oil, and as a student, deep frying in extra virgin olive oil just seems a bit too extravagant.

In the photos here the falafels are served with a tahini sauce, but I ate it with some Greek yogurt, which I think is a must.  Along with some fresh salad.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp saffron threads

Tahini sauce
3 tbsp tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
olive oil
brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180C.

Put the saffron in a bowl with about 1 tbsp of hot water.  In a food processor, add the pumpkin seeds and pulse until ground.  Add the rest of the ingredients along with the saffron.  Season.  Form into small balls and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, but make sure to turn them every 5 minutes.

Whisk the sauce ingredients together and serve with the falafels.  Some fresh vegetables, like cabbage, and Greek yogurt are strongly recommended. With pita.

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