One of the first dishes to convince society at large that a vegetarian diet could be rich in strong flavours was falafel. These are a kind of croquettes of Arabic origin, made from chickpeas or other pulses. They are crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, and are flavoured with aromatic fresh herbs.
Falafel is usually served as a starter or snack with a dip such as hummus, or in pitta bread. Traditionally they are made by hand with a mortar and pestle, but nowadays most people use a food processor.
Even so, some keys to making perfect falafel are as follows:
- Use dried chickpeas: dried are better than tinned chickpeas; soak and then cook them (see recipe ingredients, below). Some recipes use tinned chickpeas, but these do not work as well. You need to soak the dried chickpeas for 24 hours before making the falafel.
- Use quality fresh herbs and spices. Arab cuisine is known for its use of spices. If you use a high-quality ground cumin or fresh coriander, the dish will be greatly improved, as fresh and aromatic herbs are the key to this type of cuisine.
- Serve with sauce. Chickpea falafel are a bit dry and are best served with a yoghurt or tahini sauce. Tahini is a dense sauce based on sesame, and is used to accompany many Arabic dishes.
To make this salad, first make the falafel and then the yoghurt sauce. It is a classic falafel recipe with a slight variation: using a deep fryer is the most common way to cook falafel, but to make them healthier, we suggest baking them in the oven. Extra virgin olive oil is the key ingredient to make them crispy. The result is excellent, lighter and with a very aromatic flavour.
The yoghurt sauce adds a special touch to the falafel salad – the creamy texture complements the soft yet crunchy felafel and is ideal for pairing with a Rosé Cava.
The salad is ready to serve. As a starter, accompany with a plate of hummus and warm pitta bread in the centre of the table, Arab style. Remember that a glass of Rosé Cava complements this meal perfectly.
Chickpeas: dried chickpeas cannot be replaced with canned chickpeas, as the texture of the falafel would be too hard.
Yeast: this will make the falafel more palatable and allow them to expand more when baking in the oven.
Salad base: the salad base can be replaced with seasonal herbs and vegetables of your choice.
Freeze: if you do not want to eat all the falafel, you can freeze once cooked. Then reheat in the oven for 10 minutes at 200 ° C.