Saturday, August 29, 2009

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel

Falafel is one of my favorite street foods. I still have dreams sometimes about the particularly delicious spinach falafel I had in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Alexandria, Egypt. There seem to be limitless variations each bringing something new and delicious to the classic chic pea-based falafel. I also happen to love sweet potatoes, and when I came across a recipie that included both (and also did NOT include deep frying) I couldn't pass up trying it out for myself.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel

2 medium sweet potatoes (orange inside), around 700g or 1 1/2 pounds in total
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
a scant cup (120g) gram /chickpea flour (can't find any? buy some dry chic peas and grind them in your food processor)
a splash of olive oil
a sprinkling of sesame seeds
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees (220C) and roast the sweet potatoes whole until just tender - 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel.

Put the sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, ground and fresh coriander, lemon juice and gram/chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season well, and mash until smooth with no large chunks. Stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary (the water content of sweet potatoes varies enormously).

Reheat the oven to 400F/200C. Using a couple of soup spoons (put a well-heaped spoonful of mix in one spoon and use the concave side of the other to shape the sides) or a falafel scoop if you have one, make the mixture into falafelly looking things and put them on an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.

Makes about 18 falafel, enough for 4 - 6. I enjoyed it on it's own but was especially tasty with a tzadziki sauce or a yogurt garlic sauce (yogurt, garlic and salt and pepper mixed to taste) with some toasty warm pita and sprouts.

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