CC: This one is for you.
My friend, CC, is going to inherit this old, battered 2.5 yo muffin tray. She’s going to help baking muffins & cupcakes for the children at the St. Isabel orphanage. So I thought why not share with her a recipe using muffin tray that she can prepare for herself & her family.
I find falafel is one of the most budget friendly dishes to make. Dried chickpeas, bread crumbs, cumin seeds, onion, garlic, parsley/cilantro/ both, paprika, salt & pepper – all dumped into a (mini) food processor. It costs almost nothing and yet if I go to the Lebanese restaurants here, I can easily feed a village with falafel. The “downfall” of falafel is its method of preparation: it’s deep fried. I don’t mind but for the sake of health and trying everything at least once, and for CC, let’s make a baked falafel in a muffin tray, shall we?
Go here for the basic recipe. If you wonder why my fried falafel is a flat disk (instead of round balls), I was trying to skimp on oil, heh!
~ Start with processing the soaked chickpeas. Blitz for 10 seconds until it has formed a rough crumble (shake the mini food processor if needed) before adding the rest of ingredients, roughly chopped. Blitz some more. The idea is to get a fine mixture, as fine as possible, to reduce cooking time & making sure the middle part of your falafel, when cooked, is soft.
~ There is no wet ingredient to bind the mixture together. So press the mixture gently to shape it into a ball/ flat disk. Carefully lower it onto the oil (if frying) or muffin tin (if baking). They will retain their shapes. If it is indeed too crumbly and it falls apart, add the breadcrumbs by 1/2 tsp and go up from there.
~ You can spray the muffin tray with cooking spray or just lightly brush with oil.
~ Each of my falafel weighs 27 gr (abt 1 heaping tbsp, 3.5 cm in diameter). And for that, I find the optimum temperature is 210 C, with the oven fan turned on. Bake for 10 mins, remove the tray and roll the balls around, and then baked additional 7-10 mins, depending how crunchy you want them to be. If you leave the falafel for 20 mins straight, it will yield black bottom falafels. I also find that when I bake them at higher temperature, smoke comes out from the oven. Alert!!!
~ Falafel, when eaten on its own, is a little blend for my liking. I need dipping sauce. The healthiest is of course to make a yogurt-base sauce (what’s the point of baking a falafel and then dump a big dollop of mayo?). My version of “Tartar sauce” is a big dollop of plain yogurt, a small dollop of mayo, a squirt of ketchup, 1 gherkin/ pickled cucumber minced, 1 tsp vinegar from the gherkin, 1-2 dashes of (white) pepper & tiny pinch of sea salt. Taste and adjust.
Good luck, CC! Till next time.