Zesty Carrot Falafels

Yes! Carrot in a falafel – don’t tell the purists!!

Inspiration for this came from a small cookbook I purchased over the summer holidays. I am always looking for new ideas for meals and any excuse to get into the kitchen and experiment, so I had to give these a whirl.

Whilst the original uses standard plain flour and breadcrumbs, the version I have detailed below is gluten-free as my partner is trying not to eat too much gluten at the moment (and succeeding, I might add! The benefits seem to be worth it as well. Less belly pain, less bloating, better digestion all round!) Seeing as I haven’t actually attempted the original, I can’t compare the two and I have only made this once so there is definitely room to move on some of the quantities but I have done my best to detail what I did to get the right consistency. In addition, I have listed the original ingredients that I subbed-out in notes below the recipe so you can do the gluten-filled version as well!

The colour of these gnarly little balls of yum – bright, vibrant and summery – obviously comes from the carrots which inspired me to add one of carrots best buddies…orange!! YES, I know it might sound a bit weird but it works! The flavour of that beloved citrus is mild, adding some extra freshness to the smooth texture inside and the delicious crunchy exterior. But, by all means, omit if you’re not a fan.

I would love to know if you try this recipe out and if it worked for you (or if you made any alterations!). It could be a good one to try tonight for your #meatfreemonday!?


Ingredients

250g carrots, coarsely grated (approx. 2 medium carrots)

400g can chickpeas, drained & rinsed

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp harissa paste

1/4 cup gluten-free flour – the best quality one you can find is preferable

1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder

1 egg

salt and pepper, to taste

1 1/2 cups almond meal, plus an extra cup just in case

Zest of 1 medium orange + 2 tbsp orange juice, extra to taste if required

1 tsp ground turmeric, optional

1 tsp sumac, optional

1 tsp smoked paprika, optional

oil, for frying (I used rice bran oil for its high smoke point)

Method

Process carrot, chickpeas, onion, cumin, harissa, flour, baking powder and egg until mixture comes together to a smooth consistency. Don’t over mix! Season to taste (you don’t have to taste if you don’t like the idea of eating raw egg but it is important to get the balance of all of the flavours before you cook them!).

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in half of the almond meal (3/4 cup) – if the mixture seems too wet to roll into balls, add 1/4 cup and stir through, adding more again if need be. You should be able to roll the falafels without the mixture sticking to your hands too much. I would recommend tasting the mixture here again and adjusting the flavours as required – more salt? more pepper? more orange zest? more harissa? Don’t be shy!!

Roll tablespoon-sized portions of the mixture into balls – this recipe yields approximately 25 falafels, depending on how accurate your tablespoon measurements are (read: how bothered you can be to be that precise!). Once all of the falafels are prepared, roll them in the leftover almond meal to create the outer coating – this give them that lovely crunch once cooked.

Pour oil into a deep pan – you want enough oil so the falafels can be almost covered when cooking. Use your own discretion and experiment with what works. You could try shallow frying or oven baking – I haven’t tried either of these methods though, so let me know if you do!

Heat the oil in the pan until it reaches 180ยฐC (if you don’t have a suitable thermometer, apparently the test is that if a cube of bread turns golden brown in 15 seconds, your oil is good to go). Deep-fry the falafels, in batches, for 2-4 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Drain well on paper towel. I cooked 6 at a time, to make sure the pan didn’t get too crowded.

Enjoy with whatever accompaniments you like – fresh green salad, pita bread, hummus and tabbouleh, or if you’re like me, slaw, kraut and poached eggs!

Notes

If you want to stick to the original recipe then switch out the gluten-free flour for the same quantity of plain flour and the almond meal for 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs. You can also omit the orange juice and zest, the sumac, paprika and the turmeric if you like.