After a good year and a half of planning and organising our thoughts around pursuing our long-term goals, Auste and I have finally come back to Lithuania. However, before we settle down indefinitely, we have a little trip planned ahead (can’t believe we’re leaving in five days’ time!). But before that, we have been exploring our country together, as we met in England and haven’t had a chance to do so over there. Due to the weather being incredibly warm, we were spending our days (and nights) camping, swimming, foraging and sightseeing in general thus we haven’t had time to post many recipes. But we took our vegan falafel bites to a vegan picnic in Vilnius yesterday (awesome!), so we finally spent some time in the kitchen.
Even though we’re not vegan, we have one dish which I started calling our “family staple”, and it doesn’t require any animal products. I have made these tiny falafel many times, and each time they used to turn out somewhat different, but never again! After a session of about 150 cute little chickpea bites, I have nailed it down to precise measurements.
For about 30 golf-ball sized falafel you will need:
3 400g cans of chickpeas, drained (or soak and cook dried chickpeas)
2 small onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 fresh chilli, chopped
1 inch ginger, grated (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 handful of fresh parsley (optional) chopped, without stalks
1 big handful of fresh coriander (a must!) chopped, without stalks
8 tablespoons of plain flour (use chickpea flour if gluten free)
Oil for frying (I usually use extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil)
1 – Mash the chickpeas with a fork. I just gently crush them, as using a blender makes the mass too runny.
2 – Grind the cumin – I recommend toasting the seeds in a dry pan to release the flavours first. If you have time, try using a pestle and mortar to feel a really aromatic cumin flavour, but an electric grinder works fine too.
3 – Mix the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. I prefer not to puree them in a blender, as tiny pieces of onion and chilli give an element of surprise for each bite. Or you can puree half of the ingredients and leave the rest chopped. If you’re one of the people who just can’t stand wasting food, blend in the coriander and parsley stalks.
4 – Mix the chickpeas with the onion mass, and the rest of ingredients: salt, pepper, ground coriander seeds and cumin.
5 – Add the chopped coriander, parsley and flour. Please note, I only add flour to make the falafel balls stick together, as the canned chickpeas I buy are very soft. I prefer plain flour as it doesn’t change the flavour, but Auste said she liked them with gram (chickpea) flour, which (in my opinion) made the falafel taste of yellow split-peas. I made a batch without flour, but the falafel just dissolved into the oil when both deep and shallow frying them.
6 – Form tiny falafel balls with your hands and fry batches of 15-20 in an oiled pan until slightly browned and crispy. I use 1-2 tablespoons of oil per batch, and toss them straightaway to cover all sides. Otherwise, once you place the falafel in the pan and turn them over one by one, one side will absorb most of the oil, and the other sides will be likely to burn.
These tiny falafel bites go exceptionally well with hummus, raita, even guacamole or on pitta bread with salad.