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All things falafel

Anyone who's followed me here from my food blog Alphie in the Kitchen knows of my love for Middle Eastern food. And as much as I love to make it all from scratch, it's not always feasible in a house of two people working (often more than) full time. Falafel make a regular appearances mealtimes at our house - we have at least two vegetarian dinners a week, and falafel is high on the rotation. I rarely make them from scratch, and have on occasion resorted to buying the ready made ones, we usually split the difference and use a dry mix. The Husband's favourite is 'the one in the yellow box' (I think the brand is NSM, it's in quite an old, 70s-style box). Anyway, I don't love it - there's something in the mix that I can't identify, that just doesn't do it for me.

I found Mount Zero Olives while looking for a supplier of Australian grown quinoa (more on that here), and quickly realised they had a lot more to offer than just quinoa. I have since bought olives, olive oil, salt, various lentils, and, the most delicious falafel mix ever.

All of the Mount Zero range is Australian Produce, grown/harvested/manufactured/all of the above, in Australia, and a lot of the range is either certified biodynamic and/or organic, if that’s your thing. The olives are divine, and I may have been so smitten that I bought 4kg worth in a single order… I’ve also been loving the French-style lentils, which have made a number of appearances in a super-versatile broccoli salad (it’s much better than that sounds, I promise). But the absolute pick of the bunch for me has been the falafel mix.

I’m not sure how much of the reason I love the Mount Zero falafel mix is due to the somewhat unconventional preparation – rather than just adding enough water to form a thick paste, you are instructed to combine 1 cup of the mix in a food processor with half an onion, and a handful of fresh herbs (parsley, coriander & mint have been our choices so far), then add the water. I have not tried it, but I assume you could skip all that and just add water, but I would suspect they won’t be quite as delicious. Regardless of the chosen method, this is always where I step back, and The Husband forms the mix into the most perfect quinelles and deep frys until brown and gorgeous (I hand over here as both my quenelle-ing and deep frying skills are sub-standard – it’s important to know your limits).

We almost always serve falafel with huge bowls of both hummus and tabouli, only occasionally do we stray from the formula, serving tzatziki or beetroot dip, or a fattoush salad. Given the abominations I have seen being passed off as tabouli (no carrot, please!) I thought I'd share our recipe with you.


Tabouli

Serves 4

  • ¼ cup bughul (I buy mine from 2 Brothers)
  • ½ bunch spring onions
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 good sized bunches of continental/flat leaf parsley
  • 2-3 sprigs of mint
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers (arguably not traditional, but I like them)
  • Olive oil, not your best – just a regular cooking one is best.
  • Sea/rock salt and freshly ground pepper (optional)

In a small bowl, soak the bughul in just enough boiling water to cover. Set aside for 15 minutes or so while you make the rest of the salad.

Trim & finely slice the spring onions, and add to the bottom of a large bowl. Cover with the juice of half a lemon, and let steep to minimise the onion-y-ness, while you make the rest of the salad.

Wash & dry parsley if it’s a bit gritty (I don’t usually bother), and roughly pull the leaves off the stems, no need to be fussy about this, you can keep quite a bit of stem in there. Finely chop the parsley, and add on top of the onions. Finely chop the mint, and do the same.

Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds (and freeze them to chuck in a green smoothie), then finely dice the cucumber, and add to the bowl with the parsley. Dice the tomatoes, and add to the bowl.

Lastly, check that the bughul has absorbed all the water (drain/squeeze out any excess, if not), and add to the bowl. Drizzle over 1-2tbs olive oil, and the juice of the other half of the lemon. Toss to combine, add more oil or lemon juice to taste, as well as a good sprinkle of salt, and pepper if you must (I do, despite numerous oppositions that it is most definitely not traditional).

Tabouli tastes best if it’s had a few hours to sit before you eat it, but ours rarely gets that. So, if you can, make it ahead of time, but if not, no need to worry – it just means the leftovers will taste even better tomorrow!

Serve with falafel, hummus, and flat bread, and enjoy!


What are your thoughts on falafel? Some hippy food that only vegetarians suffer though, or delicious Middle Eastern delight?