The flavors of the Orient’s kitchen are divers and rich, with products like dates, harissa, cinnamon, ras el hanout, cumin, saffron, lentils, chickpeas, yufka, sesame seeds, couscous or mint. Here I explore a sliver of this cuisine with a Falafel recipe, but add my own twist by using sunflower seeds together with chickpeas as the base.
I sampled my first Middle Eastern food only a few years ago, but immediately took a liking to it. And ever since I embraced the vegan lifestyle I appreciate it even more, because it is very vegan and vegetarian friendly. Among other things I enjoy the multitude of spices, the abundance of legumes, and the use of flat breads!
Falafel are a well known traditional street food in the Middle East, and it has become very popular here as well. These little balls or patties are usually made either from ground chickpeas or ground fava beans, or a mix of both. Usually deep fried, I personally prefer to pan fry them for a healthier version. You can serve them in a pita bread, wrapped in a flat bread, as topping of a salad, or as part of a meze platter.
Here, I combine chickpeas and sunflower seeds as a base for my Falafel. Both are excellent sources of proteins, fiber and iron. And sunflower seeds in particular are packed with vitamins and minerals (read: eat more of them!).
makes about 35 Falafel
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, cooked
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- pinch cayenne
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- small bunch of parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons garbanzo flour, plus more for dredging
- In a blender grind the sunflower seeds to flour. Set aside.
- In a pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onions and the garlic with a pinch of salt until translucent.
- Place the cooked chickpeas, the sauteed onions and garlic, the lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a blender and mix until smooth.
- Take this mixture and place it in a big bowl. Mix in by hand the sunflower seed flour, the spices, the parsley, the salt, the baking powder and the garbanzo flour.
- At this stage, prepare a test Falafel: form a little ball, dredge it with garbanzo flour, and pan fry it in olive oil or coconut oil until it is golden brown all around; if it falls apart too easily, add a bit of garbanzo flour to the mix. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Proceed with the batch, forming all into little balls and dredging them with garbanzo flour, and subsequently pan frying them in olive oil or coconut oil.
Serving suggestions: Serve in a pita bread with diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, shredded cabbage, and soy yogurt. Traditionally you would serve falafel with a tahini sauce but the plain soy yogurt is a good alternative. You can season the soy yogurt with chopped cucumbers, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.