My husband and I just returned from our number one bucket list travel spot in the world, Israel. What a phenomenal experience as a woman of Christian faith exploring the steps of Jesus! I will truly never be the same.
The food was so great, and I got an authentic taste of Middle East flavor. One thing I could not get enough of while there was their falafel. One spice that came up in our food time and time again was cardamon. In fact, it was even put in our coffee! Cardamon has a very distinct and strong flavor, but it's hard to describe. To me, it's a sister to cinnamon with a smokier vibe.
As a person that often rotates vegan dishes with meat-based dishes, I'm always on the lookout for ways to eat more plant-based proteins. Falafel is a great combination of plant-base that mimics almost a meatball made with beef. Instead, it's main ingredient is chickpeas. Chickpeas are an excellent source of over 9 nutrients including fiber, iron, folate and zinc -- and they have a fun, nutty flavor.
It was great fun playing around in the kitchen with various falafel recipes. I came up with one that I found super flavorful that is 100% plant-based so my vegan friends can enjoy them. It was adapted from the Minimalist Baker's recipe. My version is a bit simpler and uses toasted sesame oil. My goal really was to maximize flavor while also minimize ingredients.
1-15 ounce can of chickpeas (drained and patted dry)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2T dry minced onion
2T raw sesame seeds
1-1/2 tsp cumin
1 healthy pinch of cardamon
4T flour (I did half all-purpose and half whole wheat)
4T toasted sesame oil
Plain breadcrumbs for coating
- Add chickpeas, onion, garlic, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, pepper and cardomon to a food processor or blender and mix/pulse to comine until you get a crumbly dough.
- Add flour 1T at a time until you get a mix that allows you to mold the dough
- Taste the mixture and add more spices to taste.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours so it can harden and it is easier to mold.
- Remove out of the refrigerator and form your mixture into small balls or patties. Sprinkle them with breadcrumbs
- Cover a skillet with sesame oil and heat on medium heat. Add balls or patties to the heated oil and fry until golden brown, turnin with tongs to brown evenly.
- Serve warm for best flavor!
What's your favorite way to enjoy the flavors of the Middle East? We'd love to hear from you!