Falafel come in all shapes, sizes, ingredients and countries. In Australia, we are very familiar with the Lebanese version made from chickpeas and less familiar with the ones made with dried fava beans (dried broad beans). In Egypt, for example, this variety is very common.
Some people, Claudia Roden is one example, believe that the best falafel are found in Egypt. The reason is that the fava bean is lighter and moister than chickpeas. And in this latter point they are correct – chickpeas, especially pureed chickpeas or chickpea flour, are especially drying. You may have noticed when making Pudla. Once you have tasted fava bean falafel, you may never go back.
These can be made beforehand and kept in the fridge until needed. Either form the falafel, pop them in the fridge and cook them just before serving. Or cook them and keep for later. They will loose outer crispness but are still absolutely delicious.
Just a word on the fava beans. Look for the smaller, yellow, split fava beans, not the large, brown beans. They are easily available in Greek and Middle Eastern groceries.
Egyptian Dried Fava Bean Falafel with a Mint Yoghurt-Tahini Sauce
250g of the small, dried, split and peeled fava beans (available in Greek and Middle Eastern shops), soaked overnight
3 cloves garlic, crushed
0.5 white onion, chopped finely
4 spring onions, chopped finely
1 tspn besan (chickpea flour)
0.5 tspn eno powder or bicarb soda
1 Tblspn coriander leaves,chopped
1 Tblspn parsley leaves, chopped
1 tspn cumin powder
0.25 tspn cayenne powder
sea salt and black pepper
canola or sunflower oil for frying
mint yoghurt tahini sauce
Use this recipe to make the sauce. To make it, you will need the following, which are whisked together:
1 cup Greek or Indian (non-sweetened) yoghurt
3 Tblspn tahini
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice of half a lemon
2 Tblspn mint, chopped (or use about 0.5 Tblspn dried mint)
1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
a little sea salt and black pepper
Take the drained, soaked fava beans and blitz them in a food processor with all of the other ingredients except the sesame seeds and oil. Aim for a rough paste.
Place the sesame seeds on a flat plate. You will need 3 – 4 Tblspns.
Form small golf-ball sized balls with the paste, and press each one in the palm of your hand to form patties. Dip each one into the sesame seeds on each side. Let the balls rest in the fridge until you are ready to cook them, and at least 10 mins.
While you are waiting, make the Mint Yoghurt-Tahini Sauce by whisking the ingredients together and topping with mint and onion rings if desired.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan – deep enough to shallow fry the falafel, say 3 – 4 cm. Cook the falafel in batches, about 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Serve with the Mint Yoghurt-Tahini Sauce.