Broad bean falafel with tahini dressing and salad
Falafel have been a mystery to me for most of my adult life. The fluffy little fried balls of goodness were something I purchased for such a long time without ever querying how they were produced. The most common version of falafel uses dried chickpeas as the main component but the Egyptian variety calls for broad beans. Demystifying the falafel process has been relatively simple, as it turns out. The biggest factor is to not cook the beans throughout the process prior to frying the falafel balls. This way the starch holds on and the whole lot doesn’t become a deep-fried soup.
The broad bean is an incredible, versatile vegetable that has multiple uses within its life cycle. When young, the leaves are delicious raw, or cooked in the same way as spinach. When the beans begin to show, you can eat the whole pod grilled, almost as you would edamame. Once older, they go from a bean used podded fresh in salads to a bean that is dried (aka a fava bean).
The most interesting ingredient in this recipe, however, is the sea parsley. Sea parsley (or sea celery) is a coastal native plant that is closely related to our more common parsleys. It grows along the coast, protruding from rocky outcrops and cliff faces. Sea parsley was eaten by early explorers, including Captain Cook, to ward off scurvy. Propagated varieties can be used in the same manner as continental parsley but with more restraint. Don’t be intimidated – endeavour to experiment with the native alternative.
- 300g dried broad beans
- 500g fresh broad beans (shelled)
- ¼ cup sea parsley
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground coriander seeds
- ⅛ tsp white pepper
- 1 clove garlic, grated (with microplane)
- 1 shallot
- 1 litre rice bran oil or other frying oil
- 200ml Greek-style yoghurt
- 20ml tahini
- 20ml lemon juice
- 1 bunch continental parsley
- 100g broad beans (shelled)
- 1 shallot
- 10ml lemon juice
- 20ml olive oil
- Soak the dried broad beans in two litres of water overnight. Strain off the water, combine the beans with the rest of the falafel ingredients (except the oil) in a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes a mealy paste. Reserve in a bowl to be fried.
- Combine the yoghurt, tahini and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Season with salt and reserve.
- Roughly chop both the continental parsley and the broad beans. Peel and finely slice the shallot and mix the ingredients together. Dress with the lemon juice and olive oil and season to taste.
- Bring the frying oil up to 180ºC and form the falafel using a spoon to compact the mixture into small balls. Using your finger, flick the falafel from the end of the spoon into the oil and fry for three minutes. Lift the falafel out of the oil and place onto absorbent paper.
- Smear the tahini dressing on the base of a plate, followed by the salad. Place the falafel on top and serve with flatbread as a meal, or enjoy as a warm salad.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on October 26, 2019 as "Beans talking".
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