I’ve been on a vegetarian/health kick lately for quite a few reasons, one of them being stomach issues, and I cannot even begin to explain how much it has helped. I don’t eat vegetarian everyday, I don’t think I could live without things like seafood gumbo and dirty rice, but I try to eat that way a couple times a week to give my body a rest. One of the biggest misconceptions about eating vegan or vegetarian is the thought of how boring it can be. This is so not true, and I’m about to prove it with this unreal gluten-free falafel recipe.
Falafel has always been one of my favorite foods, but I never realized how much I liked it until I had it made the correct way (when I met my future mother in law). Simply put, she is one of the best chefs I have ever met, especially when it comes to Lebanese and Middle Eastern recipes. Her falafel has a bright, vibrant green inside, and a crispy clean outside. They are so light and fluffy, you could literally eat a dozen and still feel good. So, this is what I was going for when I made mine!
I also served the falafel with a killer yogurt-tahini sauce that was to die for!! I am such a sucker for this type of food. It’s so light, I love the way I feel afterwards!
Another thing I love about this recipe is the ease at which I made it gluten free. Instead of using flour, I substituted rice flour, and you cannot notice the difference. I also made half the batch with no flour at all, which is another option!
Gluten-Free Falafel & Yogurt-Tahini Sauce
For the falafel:
1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas + 1/2 tsp. baking soda for soaking
1/2 medium sweet yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup cilantro
1 cup parsley
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. rice flour (optional)
1 tsp. sesame seeds, for coating
3 cups neutral oil (I use sunflower oil) for frying
For the yogurt-tahini sauce:
6 oz. plain natural yogurt
2 oz. good quality tahini paste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl with water (enough to cover twice) and 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Cover with a dish towel and let the chickpeas soak overnight.
The following day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Set aside.
Prepare your food processor. Begin by pulsing the onion until it is finely minced. Then, place it in a strainer on top of a paper towel. You want to gently press down the onion to release excess water. Set aside.
Pulse the herbs until they are finely minced, and then set aside.
Pulse the jalapeno,chickpeas, and garlic until they are fine, almost paste-like, but still have a bit of their consistency left.
Finally, in a large bowl, combine the onion, herbs, chickpeas and garlic, spices, and salt. Mix everything together very well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. At this point, you can either store the falafel mix for a couple of days or, get ready to fry it.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, making sure it goes up the sides almost 3 inches. Mix the baking soda and rice flour into the falafel. The rice flour is optional, if your falafal feels too wet. Form patties or balls with the falafel into your hands, about 1 Tbsp. each. Coat the outside with sesame seeds. Once the oil is hot enough, deep-fry the falafel about 4 minutes total, until brown. Set the falafel on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
For the yogurt-tahini sauce:
Combine all ingredients and stir well.
I like to serve the falafel on fresh pita, dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickled turnips, and drizzled with the yogurt-tahini sauce!