Recipe: paleo falafels
Falafel is one of my favourite Middle Eastern foods and although I indulge in the real thing from time to time, I’ve always wanted to make a paleo friendly version without the legumes. To all falafel patriots out there…I know it’s not really a falafel. I could call these ‘cauliflower, tahini and cashew patties’…but where is the fun in that?
Another thing to note is that these babies are fluffy and soft unlike some deep-fried falafels which can be much coarser and firm (just giving you the heads up on what to expect). I love eating these as they are, dipped in a little chilli aioli or babaganush dip, or wrapped in lettuce leaves with some kimchi or sauerkraut. You can use them to top a salad or serve as a side dish with meat or fish and vegetables. Kids won’t even know they’ve got veggies inside.
- Just a bit over 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in warm water for 1 hour (at least 20 mins)
- 2 large cauliflower florets or 4-5 smaller ones (see picture)
- 4 broccoli florets
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 small red onion or young white onion
- 1 1/2 tbsp tahini paste
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2/3 tsp coriander seed powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds (optional)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp tapioca flour or 3/4 tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tsp ghee and 1 tsp coconut oil (or 2 tsps of just one of them)
For the dipping sauce
- 1 tsp tahini
- 1 tsp hot sauce/chilli sauce or chilli flakes
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 200 °C/390 °F. Grease a sheet of baking paper with some ghee or coconut oil.
Place all ingredients, except for tapioca/coconut flour, in a food processor. Grind and process everything into fine crumbs, until the mixture starts coming together (aka coming away from the sides and wrapping into itself). It should take about 2-3 minutes, including scraping off the sides as you go along. If you find that the vegetables are not grinding properly, I suggest to do this in two batches and then mix and process two batches together again once you have smaller crumbs. As you’re grinding the mixture, it will produce some moisture so don’t rush to add any water or think it’s too dry.
Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of tapioca flour or a little less coconut flour. Mix well together as the flour soaks some of the moisture and makes the mixture more sticky.
Scoop 2/3 tablespoon batches of the mixture and shape into balls in your hands. Use the spoon to help you shape and flatten the balls slightly. Place on the baking sheet lined oven tray. Melt about a teaspoon of each ghee and coconut oil in a little saucepan or microwave. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, coat the top of the falafels with a thin layer of melted fat.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the tray and turn the falafels over, very gently. Place back in the oven for 10 minutes and reduce the heat to 180 °C/360 °F. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before transferring to a plate.
Combine ingredient for the dipping sauce and serve on the side.
Preparation time: 20 minutes + time 20 mins to 1 hour for soaking the cashews
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Number of servings: 2-4 (depending on how you’re serving these)