In an effort to keep my grocery costs down, I try to make lots of legume dishes, as they're the cheapest type of protein. But honestly, after a lot of beans and lentils I get bored and like to mix things up a bit so I and my kids don't get sick of them. This is a recipe I made up for lentil falafel, a nice change from the top typical lentil fare like soups and casseroles. This also is a good way to make legumes into finger food to make them travel friendly.
Very often legumes are cooked together with dairy or tomatoes to enhance them (the dairy and tomatoes help mask the "beany flavor" found in most legumes). This recipe is allergy friendly for people who can't have nightshades, and still manages to have the beany taste masked. My kids thought they were meatballs and gobbled them down.
The falafel that are well known today are ones that are made from chickpeas, but originally falafel were made from broad beans and there are all sorts of varieties made from various legumes, like these made from lentils. Falafel generally are made with breadcrumbs, but since I need my food to be gluten free, I left that out and replaced it with chopped veggies and other stuff. This changes the texture somewhat and makes them a bit more moist; I prefer it this way as my issue with falafel always was that it was too dry.
The typical way to eat falafel is with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes in a pita or wrap, and drizzled with tahini sauce. I usually am too lazy to make gluten free wraps, so just serve them on a bed of tomatoes and cukes, with tahini drizzled on, leaving out the wraps, and they're just as good. If you want, here's a gluten free flatbread to use as a wrap. If you don't need to be gluten free, here's a recipe for homemade pocket pita bread, and I'm sure you can sub flour for the starch in this recipe if you want. (Start off with a little more flour than the amount of starch written, then test one ball. If it holds together nicely, then make the rest; if not, add more flour until the consistency is right.)
I made mine with kohlrabi because that's what I had in my house and it was in season; you can make it with any other vegetable, ideally a more bland one, like radish or turnip or zucchini if you can't get kohlrabi cheaply.
This makes a really large quantity- enough to serve a crowd. Feel free to halve the recipe if you're making it for a smaller group. I like mine full of flavor and spices- if you like things a bit blander, use the smaller amount of spice listed in the recipe.
This tahini paste also tastes good on vegetable salads, on greens, and as a dipping sauce for bread. It also tastes terrific with roasted eggplant.
Ingredients for Falafel Balls:
5 cups cooked green/brown lentils
2 kolhrabi- each approximately 15 oz
1 cup flax seed, ground
1 cup potato, corn, or tapioca starch
1.5-2 tablespoons salt
2-3 tablespoons cumin
1-2 tablespoons turmeric
3 tablespoons coriander
1-2 tablespoons garlic
Oil for deep frying
Ingredients for Tahini Paste:
1/2 cup tahini paste
1 cup water
1 tablespoon and one teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Falafel Balls Instructions:
1. Cook lentils if they aren't already cooked. Puree.
2. Peel kohlrabi. Puree. I don't have the strongest food processor, so I found it worked best to first grate the kohlrabi, then stick it in the food processor.
3. Stick flax seeds in the coffee grinder and blend.
4. Mix together the rest of the ingredients beside for the oil. Let sit for 5 minutes. Your mix should look something like this:
5. Fill a deep pan with healthy oil. I used my cast iron dutch oven and filled it with palm oil. You use whichever oil is healthiest for you. Heat the pan to high.
6. Either wet your hands and make small, flatish patties and drop into the hot oil to deep fry, or just drop misshapen bits off the end of a spoon. Drop enough patties/balls that the entire bottom of the pot is filled, leaving a little space around the edge of each ball so they don't get stuck together.
7. Fry until the bottom gets browned, then flip over each ball until the other side gets browned.
8. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place on a towel to absorb the excess oil.
Instructions For Tahini Sauce:
1. Put tahini paste in a container.
2. Add a teaspoon of water to the tahini and mix well. Add another teaspoon and mix well. Add another teaspoon and mix well. It should start to thicken.
3. Add the water a little bit at a time- first it'll get thicker and thicker and then it will thin down.
4. When you've used all the water, add the lemon juice and salt and mix well.
5. Drizzle over your falafel balls.
Have you ever had falafel? Was it made from the standard chickpeas, or from another legume? Have you ever made your own falafel? Does this seem like a recipe you'd try? Why or why not?