Baked Falafel : A tribute to Egypt’s famous Street Gourmet with a personalized Healthy Twist
If asked, who wouldn’t be able to define street Food. The answers can be as interesting as one could think of. Though, I would define street food as a ‘feel-good’ food that is inexpensive bursting with inviting aroma, colors and flavors.
People enjoy street food for a number of reasons: for a quick, budget bite on the run, to sample appetizing local or bizarre food in a social setting. It’s these elements only that make Street Gourmet so special and, so often, delicious.
Every culture has a distinctive cuisine and the Middle East is no exception. Rich, satisfying, healthy and succulent are all words that can describe the wonderful creations of the Middle East. Almost all globe-trotting gourmands would surely agree that Middle Eastern street food is one of the most delectable and vibrant options popular around the globe.
Unlike Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, Egypt doesn’t really have a restaurant culture although it does have an exciting street food scene. I got to know of this fact when my husband visited Egypt way back in 2009. Though I couldn’t accompany him for this trip due to some exigency at home, I am still so knowledgeable about the country’s culture and cuisine. Thanks to my expressive hubby who could put his travel experience awesomely into words for me. He would have been the best person to write on this topic. Nevertheless, I am not bad even.
While his hunt for the vegetarian food on the streets of Cairo in Egypt, he came across these scrumptious Falafel and since then, he kept praising a lot about the street foods of Egypt. He’s a hardcore fan of the Middle-Eastern Street Gourmet. So, according to him, a vegetarian survival guide in a middle-eastern country does include Pita bread, Shrak, Fatoush, Tabouleh, Hummus, Baklava and ofcourse, his favorite, Falafel.
As the cuisine offers a lot of vegetarian options, which apart from being delicious, are healthy and inexpensive too. Falafel being the king among those in my hubby’s opinion. The taste of this filling snack lingered on to his taste buds even long after he had licked out his finger and plates.
So, a well assured message to all the fellow vegetarians is that you shouldn’t out-right skip a destination because of food, you can eat well once you’re there.
Having talked enough about the middle-eastern culture and street food in general, I shouldn’t skip to tell you what falafel is! Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish of spiced mashed chickpeas or other pulses like fava beans formed into balls or fritters and deep-fried, usually eaten with or in pita bread.
My family loves to enjoy street food at home but with a healthy twist.Now the challenge is to personalize this appetizing dish to make it healthier and oil-free yet not comprising on any flavors. I try to avoid all sorts of frying in my kitchen.
So, I decided to replace fried original version of falafel with the baked version. It came out to be really nice. I took it for a picnic I had last week with my friends. Though I packed my baked falafel patties in burger buns along with salad, no one could say that it wasn’t the authentic fried version. It was loved by all.
So, here’s the baked falafel recipe for all my health conscious readers. Do give it a try and don’t forget to share your feedback.
1 cup raw dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp hot paprika
¼ tsp all spice
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon zest(optional)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- Pre-heat oven at 400F.
- Generously spray a mini muffin pan(or line a baking sheet with parchment paper) with cooking spray.
- Combine all ingredients, except olive oil in the food processor.
- Pulse a few times until all the ingredients are well combined, but not completely smooth.
- Place mixture in a bowl, add olive oil and mix well.
- Grease your hands, form small balls using your hands and place them in the mini muffin pan. If the mixture looks loose, add 2 tablespoon breadcrumbs and mix again to form the smooth balls.
- Bake at 400F for total 15 minutes. Flip the falafel balls when half the time is over.
- Serve with pita bread, burger buns, tahini sauce or make your own combinations.
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