Funny story about falafels: even though I grew up in Dubai, I never had a falafel until I moved to the States! Isn’t that funny?
I’m not sure why that is… perhaps my parents didn’t think it was worth wasting perfectly good kebab-eating time. Not that I’m complaining because, although I like falafels in theory, the reality is always a little disappointing. Order some version of a vegetarian plate at a Middle Eastern joint, and while the babaganoush and tabouli are good, the falafel falls flat: it’s dry, flavourless, stale… unless you douse it in tahini, and then really, what’s the point? I’ve had good falafel, but they’ve been few and far between.
That’s the beauty of my pea-lafels. Bite into these cheery bright green gems, and the satisfying crunchy exterior gives way to a luscious creamy interior. You’re never going to have a chalky falafel if you make ‘em with peas! Plus, I love the flavours in this falafel mix: mint, fenugreek, fennel and coriander.
I didn’t know this until now, but peas are packed with vitamin K, folic acid, all kinds of B vitamins and vitamin C. And they’re hella cheap. No wonder your mum shoved them down your throat when you were little.
Oh and when you make ‘em, a bellydance spontaneously appears in your kitchen. Think I’m kidding? Take a look:
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed and drained
1 shallot, peeled and chop roughly
1 clove garlic, peeled
Handful of fresh mint leaves, plus another handful for yogurt sauce
Glug of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Squirt of horseradish sauce (optional)
1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour; regular flour is a fine substitute)
Canola oil for frying
1 cup plain yogurt
1) In small skillet, toast the fenugreek, fennel and coriander seeds for a couple of minutes until they’re fragrant and slightly darker. Don’t walk away from the pan! They’ll burn! Remove from pan into a small bowl and allow to cool. Meanwhile, make yogurt sauce: Mix yogurt with finely chopped mint leaves and a generous pinch of salt. Chill in the fridge. Throw seeds into a coffee/spice grinder and powder.
2) Throw peas, spices, shallot, garlic, mint, extra virgin olive oil, salt into a food processor. Whizz it up, and if it isn’t grinding well, then pour up to 1/4 cup of water and puree until smooth. It won’t get completely smooth, because of the edamame, but process until as smooth as possible.
3) Scrape into a big bowl. Add horseradish sauce (optional) and flour. Mix.
4) Pour enough oil into a nonstick skillet so that it’s 1/8″ thick. Heat over medium heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, shape mixture into a small pattie in your hands, then gently drop into oil. Fry until the bottom is dark caramel brown (about 2 minutes), then carefully flip over. Brown other side, then remove from the pan and drain on paper towel-lined plate.
5) Serve in a pita breapocket with some fresh veggies and a spoonful of the yogurt sauce. Yum!