Freestyle Falafel

I did a killer yoga workout this morning. Although I am quietly shedding excess weight since embarking on my vegan diet this month, my main goal is to tone up again after the chocolate-induced sag of Christmas! I was so hungry after all the stretching today, I dived into the cupboards to rustle up something for lunch. I was eyeing up the chickpeas and wondering what to do with them when I had a sudden craving for falafel. So I cobbled some together. Wow! I think I’ve only ever tried to make them once before, using a recipe which contained egg, and it was probably a fiddly recipe that put me off. These are fast, simple and make a delicious, protein-packed lunch that you can totally vary for variety. You can alter the spices, add some grated carrot, beetroot or whiz in a handful of spinach or kale. Or make them bigger and pat them down for delicious veggie burgers! They will seem quite fragile after you’ve made them, but they’ll firm up as they cool. It’s best to chill them before serving, but they’ll be fine if you just allow them to rest for 20 minutes or so before eating). Try stuffing them into a toasted pitta with salad for the perfect lunch!

1 x can drained chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry
1 small onion
Optional: Add 1 small grated carrot or beetroot
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ras el hanout spice (or use 1 tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander)
1 tsp garlic granules/powder (not garlic salt)
Optional: 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp sea salt and a pinch of pepper

Simply place everything in a small food processor and blitz until not quite smooth. Try to retain just a little bit of texture! If you don’t have a processor, mash the chickpeas and finely chop the onion. Place in a bowl (with any optional grated veg) and add the coriander, oil and all the spices. Mix well and taste it – adjust the seasoning if necessary. A squeeze of lemon works well instead of extra salt. Then if you have time, pop the mixture in the fridge to firm up for half and hour or so before rolling into walnut-sized balls. If they are too wet to form balls (a little stickiness is fine) then just mix in a little flour until the mixture is easier to work with.

Using a little olive oil, fry them on a really low heat. It’s best to fry low and slow. I fried these for about 10 minutes total, turning them over every few minutes. You can bake them in a hot oven for a further 10 minutes if you’re uncertain whether the middle has cooked through. But as these don’t contain eggs, I wouldn’t worry too much. Allow to cool and chill as soon as possible.

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