I love Middle Eastern food- it's a real influence on the way I cook. Its light, fresh tapas style is especially perfect for the summer.
Any of you who follow my blog will know that I regularly turn to Ottolenghi for ideas when cooking, but if you want to start with the basics, you can't go wrong with falafel and hummus.
I made it a little more interesting by substituting the chickpeas that you traditionally use in falafel for sweet potato... It results in a beautiful coloured ball, and is a little sweeter.
This makes for a really lovely lunch or light supper. Serve it with warm pitta bread (gorgeous) or in wraps with the lettuce and hummus for something simple you can eat on the go.
Sweet Potato Falafel
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and roast two large sweet potatoes whole until just tender - This will take about 45 to an hour. Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel. (Not wanting to waste anything, I save the skin and chew on them later. Remember- this is where all the goodness lives!)
Put the sweet potatoes into a large bowl with a teaspoon and a half of cumin and ground coriander, two cloves of crushed garlic, a good splash of lemon juice and a small cup of gram/chickpea flour. Add this a little at a time as you stir it all together- you don't want too much. The first time I tried this it was a little heavy and dry. You want the mix to be sticky, but not too sloppy. But remember that when you chill it, it will set a bit more!
When it is fairly smooth season well and 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 at this stage if you think it still needs it.
Reheat the oven to 180C. (My directions are for a fan assisted oven.) Scoop up handfuls of the mix roll into falafel shaped balls- about an inch in diameter, 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.
This is an insanely quick and easy recipe! (Let's be honest- if it wasn't I probably wouldn't be doing it...) Just drain a tin of chickpeas and rinse, reserve a handful of whole chick peas for serving. Combine the chickpeas with four tablespoons of lemon juice, two cloves of crushed garlic, a tsp of cumin, salt, and 100ml tahini, with a few tablespoons of water in a food processor, and blend to a purée. Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste.
Spoon out into a bowl- ideally something Middle Eastern, blue in tone and beautiful! Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and scatter with the reserved chickpeas. Finally, sprinkle on a bit of paprika. Serve with pitta bread.