When I became vegetarian and later vegan, I craved the kind of foods that hit the same spot as a late-night kebab after the pub and so street-side falafel became my go-to snack. Sadly, street-side microwave falafel are usually worlds apart from the real thing; oily on the outside, parched on the inside, crumbly and for the most part, tasteless. All I could hope for was a nice garlic sauce and some crispy iceburg lettuce to give some taste, moisture and a bit of texture to my vegetarian consolation prize.
Needless to say my introduction to falafel had been filled with mostly misses until I found a vendor serving up freshly deep-fried falafel. Things would never be the same. Ever since then I my falafel cravings have become a in a particular format Ã¢â‚¬â€œ deep fried falafel served in a pita bread pocket filled with hummus and tabouli, cabbage or some pickled veg with a little fresh chilli sauce, and maybe some za’atar thrown in.
But I have a confession; as much as I love and crave falafel, I’ve never actually tried making it myself. It took me so long to find a falafel that I loved to eat, and with professional food-makers unable to make a decent falafel, what were the chances that I ever could?
In her latest book Falafel Forever, Dunja Gulin allays my fears in the very first chapter, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tips and TricksÃ¢â‚¬Â. She highlights that Ã¢â‚¬Å“there are a couple of crucial moments where a small mistake can make the difference between a perfect falafel and a falafel mix that ends up being thrown away!Ã¢â‚¬Â She acknowledges that falafel can indeed be a handful but she has experimented and tried it all, taking the guesswork out for people like me.
Not only does Gulin have a recipe for my idea of the perfect falafel – delectably crispy on the outside, warm and aromatic on the inside with just the right amount of’cooking’, but she also expands the idea of falafel way beyond the chickpea and includes recipes that utilise a large variety of different main ingredients.
It really is exciting to see a recipe book that not only gives you confidence to make your own at home but also broadens the definition of this beloved and crispy-fried middle-eastern snack. It made me ask myself why I had been restricted to thinking falafel could only made with chickpeas or broad/fava beans?
Gulin offers an abundance of ideas from red lentils, tempeh, tofu, millet, red kidney beans, green/brown lentils, short-grain brown rice, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, buckwheat and cauliflower, walnut and mushroom, or even cashews as the alternative main ingredients. This is vegans call heaven right here.
One of the most important criteria when choosing a recipe book for me is whether there is a colour photo of the food I’m trying to make so I can see what the end goal should be. When hit with such tempting recipes as Robust Tempeh Faux-lafel, Red Lentil Falafel Wraps, Greek-Style Falafel Fritters, Crunchy Tofu Faux-lafel, BBQ Falafel Croquettes, and Falafel’Meatballs’, it’s essential to have an accompanying colour photo and Falafel Forever ticks that box thoroughly with colourful, beautifully presented images of the dishes on offer.
And for those of you who have been reticent to try making your own falafels because you’re either shying away from deep-frying, or find it hard to digest soaked chickpeas, or perhaps because you’re on a gluten-free diet or prefer raw foods, Falafel Forever has recipes for over-baked as well as dehydrated options, and several gluten-free recipes as well as suggested alternatives so you can be nut-free too (if need be).
Whatever lifestyle you choose, dietary intolerance you have, or whether you follow one particular diet or another, Falafel Forever is brimming with vibrant photos and an incredible variety of ingredients, techniques and food combinations that spans the’Traditional Chickpea Falafel’ right through to meal ideas like’Heat and Eat Falafel Casserole’ and’Falafel Coconut Curry’. Thanks to Gulin’s hard work and enthusiasm for this vegan staple, we now have enough recipes to enjoy for Falafel Forever.