Baked Falafel & Pita Falafel Sandwich with Creamy Veggie Salad
I absolutely love Chickpeas. There is so much you can do with it. Falafel always tops the list. There is a small Mediterranean restaurant close to where I used to work. By far they make the best Falafels that I have ever had. They make it pretty big in size and what always intrigued me was how crunchy it was even at room temperature. You will always find a huge batch of Falafels stacked up behind a glass screen. And no matter what time you go, you will always get absolutely crispy ones. I always got their Falafel salad which includes greens, tabouleh, crumbled falafel, banana peper, onion,feta cheese, tzaziki sauce/tahini along with Pita bread on the side. I have been craving for these Falafels for long and decided to make some for dinner yesterday. It had to be baked, of course!
I must admit that fried Falafels are any day better than baked ones. But once you make a sandwich or a salad with it, I doubt you will be able to make out the difference. These when baked are definitely crispy but they just don't stay that way for long. So enjoy them right out of the oven:). I am not keen on frying anything so baked falafels is the way I enjoy it at home:)
For a good falafel, you never boil the chickpeas. The chickpeas have to be absolutely dry to get the right amount crunchiness. Canned chickpeas are easy to use but I feel they are over hydrated and this will make the falafel too soft and they tend to fall apart.
Along with the falafels, you will also need some veggies and/or a dip to go with it. I like mine with simple mayo - sour cream mixed with some veggies. I also had some home made Muhammara that I had posted earlier, you can find the link here. I used it as a spread inside the Pita pockets, this is quite optional. Hummus will make a great alternative!
(Makes 16-18 Falafels)
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 garlic, cloves
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
4-5 green chilies, chopped
1 - 2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tsp cumin powder
3 tablespoon chickpea flour(besan)
salt , as needed
1-2 tablespoon olive oil for baking and 1 tablespoon more for greasing the tray
CREAMY VEGGIE SALAD
1/2 cup mayonaise
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
1 teaspoon chaat masala ( optional)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
Cilantro for garnish
salt as needed
Sliced onions, peppers, cabbage and cucumber
1/4 cup muhammara or hummus(optional)
Soak chickpeas overnight in water. These will swell up, so make sure there is sufficient water. Drain well. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor - chickpeas, garlic, onion, cilantro, green chilies, lemon juice, cumin powder, chickpea flour and salt. Process the mixture until all the ingredients are minced well. Do not puree them. Taste and add more spices, lemon juice if needed. Continue to pulse them, scrapping down the sides as needed.
Preheat oven at 400F. Grease the baking pan generously with olive oil. Using hands, scoop some falafel mixture and form into a ball. Press the patties into small disc or patties and place them on the greased baking tray. Gently brush oil over the patties. Bake them for 20 minutes on one side; flip them and bake again for 15 minutes.
In a bowl, cream together mayo, sour cream, chili powder, cumin powder, chaat masala, black pepper powder and salt. Add the sliced veggies and mix them well. Cover it using a cling wrap and keep it refrigerated until you are ready to serve.
Just before serving, cut pita bread into two. Slice through the center, open the pouch and spread some muhammara ( this is optional). Fill some veggie salad and place two falafel and top it with some more veggie salad. Enjoy!