baked falafel with coconut raita. and january heat

plate

It’s quiet; a still and mild Saturday afternoon. A halcyon breeze floats through the window, softly scented with warm eucalyptus. Quite a change from the week-that-was – when temperatures reached over 46 degrees C (115 degrees f). Today feels positively balmy.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably read my complaints about this January’s blistering heat wave. Monday afternoon felt like a billowing sauna, extraordinarily hot and thick with the scent of roasting vegetation. Whilst venturing out at lunchtime, hot bitumen melted the sole off my sandal. What a way to start the new year.

Another victim of the recent heat is our three-and-a-half year old MacBook Pro. The once reliable beast appears to have died in a flash of heat and blinking white (even following this advice didn’t help). On Thursday, we consulted a bearded, self-confessed ‘geek’ wearing Rip Curl shorts (paradox much?). $160 and ten minutes later, temporary optimism melted into bitter disappointment as we were instructed to ‘…take it to the Apple Store’.

And so we did, only to be given an appointment for next Tuesday. Sad face.

tahini

Life without a laptop is rather inefficient. I’ve been using my phone and iPad, but neither is optimal for writing or reading blog posts. My kindly husband has now loaned me his desktop PC for the afternoon, however I’m quite aware that this is holding up his own personal work (and more importantly, his progress in The Wolf Among Us).

I’m typing as quickly as possible, my gaze flicking back and forth between his giant dual monitors like a tennis spectator. As someone who is as much a geek as I am an emo (read: not at all), I feel like I’m stuck in the temperate cockpit of some tiny, artistic aircraft with floorboards for wings. The screens are wallpapered with digital paintings, gently peppered with art files and music downloads. All very Aaron. None of my foodie files are here, neither are my individual PhotoShop settings.

Another sad face.

table

Anyway, that’s enough negativity for one day. Let’s focus on the positives of January; shiny orange positives in the form of sticky mangoes, blushed apricots and juicy nectarines. Summer has brought fruit galore, coloured jewels that are ripe for the picking. I’ve mostly been eating them cold, sliced into salads or piled upon thick coconut yoghurt, though a recent glut from the market may be turned into apricot compote (perhaps by the sun if I leave a pot on the balcony!).

Another January upside is the fact that glorious warm weather is perfect for lighter meals. Salads, quinoa sushi, raw vegetables and blackened corn slathered in chilli lime butter. I’ve also been relishing cocktails crowned with piles of ice, perfect for balmy evenings spent with a good book.

mojito lucynisaac

Over the past week, my book of choice has been Green Kitchen Travels, a beautiful volume of recipes and stories both penned and photographed by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl (the talented husband and wife team behind vegetarian blog Green Kitchen Stories). After purchasing the book several months ago in London, it’s taken me a little while to start cooking from it – so far our table has been blessed with avocado and kiwi paletas, chocolate bean chilli and vibrant raspberry chia jam, all of which have been relished with keen eyes and sticky fingers.

Last Thursday, my mother and I decided to spend an impromptu evening drinking elderflower mojitos joined by Aaron, my beautiful (vegetarian) friend Lucy and her son Isaac. It took me three seconds to decide to make baked falafel from the original volume by David and Luise published in 2013.

Over the course of the evening, we drank from ice-cold glasses, slurped on healthy popsicles and drew elephants upon computer paper. We ate these crisp, nutty falafel balls in crisp cabbage leaves (san choy bau style) alongside baked pesto mushrooms with guacamole, smoky baba ghanouj (recipe here) and fresh turkish bread.

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If you’ve made the original recipe from The Green Kitchen, you’ll notice that I’ve switched up a few ingredients whilst adding a ‘chilling period’ for the falafel mix (which is specific to warmer regions). I’ve also omitted the cashew nut dressing in favour of a lavish spoonful of nut butter and fragrant coconut raita. Experiment as you like – I can assure you that the original version is just as blissful, as would a simple adornment of Greek yoghurt or garlicky hummus.

Here’s to a beautiful, healthy 2015 for all of us (and my computer).

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Baked Falafel with Coconut Raita and Tomato Chilli Salsa

Adapted from The Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl (aka Green Kitchen Stories)

Falafel:

  • 1 cup (loosely packed) washed mint and parsley leaves
  • 200g (about 2 cups) unsalted nuts (I used pistachios, cashews and walnuts)
  • 400g chickpeas, cooked or canned
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 small red (Spanish) onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (substitute coconut oil if desired)
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp buckwheat flour (substitute oat or wheat flour if desired)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Line a large baking tray (about 35x25cm) with baking paper, then set aside.

Blend the herbs in a food processor until coarsely chopped (about 30 seconds). Add the nuts and pulse until combined. Add the rest of the falafel ingredients and blend for 1-2 minutes or until well combined with a little residual texture (stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary).

Remove the falafel mixture from the food processor and place into a large bowl. Scoop slightly heaped tablespoonfuls of the mixture into your hands and roll to form about 24 small falafel. Place on your prepared baking tray, then push down lightly with your fingers to flatten slightly. Depending upon your climate, refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up a little.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees f). Drizzle the falafel with a little olive oil, then bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Turn after 10 minutes to get a uniform brown colour. Allow to cool slightly before assembling your falafel wraps.

falafelbowl

Coconut Raita:

  • 225mL (1 cup) chilled coconut cream (substitute natural dairy yoghurt or soy yoghurt if desired)
  • small handful of mint, washed and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • small piece of finely chopped green chilli (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Place all ingredients into a medium-sized bowl, stir together and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using. Leftover raita is amazing with curries or dolloped over fresh green leaves with chickpeas, chopped grape tomatoes and toasted sunflower seeds.

salsa

Tomato Chilli Salsa

  • 3 large, ripe tomatoes or 250g mixed cherry tomatoes, finely diced (leave the seeds in)
  • 1/2 long red chilli, finely chopped (de-seed if you’d like less heat)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small red (Spanish) onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine everything in a medium bowl, mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to intensify the flavours.

closeup aerial

To serve:

  • 1 green cabbage or iceberg lettuce, core removed, leaves washed and dried
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • soft green herbs (coriander, mint, parsley), leaves picked
  • gently warmed nut butter (cashew butter, pepita butter or tahini) to dollop
  • lemon wedges

I served these falafel pre-assembled in little cabbage cups however you can wrap them up in iceberg lettuce for a crispy alternative… or leave everything in small bowls on the table for people to help themselves.

For a more traditional meal, serve the falafel in warmed pitas doused in plenty of nut butter, raita and salsa. They’ll be delicious either way.

isaac1 closeup3

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43 responses

    • Oh, I might just do that E! I’m hoping to be productive over the next week, fingers crossed that it won’t take them too long to fix it after Tues. Will msg you – and ooh, I want to hear about the scrapbook! Xx

  1. Lovely. I’ve been making the Green kitchen stories recipe for a while and love it! It is so fragrant and easy to make. The coconut raïta sounds delicious, and your pictures are beautiful, as always! Happy New Year, Laura!

    • Oh how I wish I could really get a dose of that coolness Ksenia! It’s still pretty intolerable here, though I guess I should be grateful on behalf of those who are immersed in a blizzard right now, haha :) xx

  2. Oh no…. I am SO sorry to hear about your laptop. We’re on the same wavelength, literally (go read my latest post- you’ll laugh!). The feeling of working off of someone else’s computer is like learning a new language. Not to mention, frustrating! Were you able to recover all of your files? I hope so. I would be twitching at this point.

    But honestly, you’d never know any of this was going on… your pictures and writing are captivating. You had me at coconut raita ;) xoxo

    • Oh no Emilie! I am so sorry, argh! We get our laptop back from diagnostics on Tuesday so I am keeping my fingers crossed that the files have been retrievable. So sad! Thanks so much for the lovely note xxx

  3. I am in a daze after reading coconut raita and see myself in warmer, not necessarily that hot weather munching away on those falafel. Love that they are baked (I have only made Egyptian broad bean ones and they were fried, super tasty, though) and sure will give yours a try, the whole combo sounds and looks fantastic. Surely, I’ll dream about the raita tonight! Green Kitchen, I adore those two and am browsing the Travel book each evening, going very hungry to sleep. N xx

    • Yes, I love the option of baking as well – just a little bit healthier, with just as much deliciousness! I do hope that you enjoyed the recipe. I am a huge lover of everything GKS and can’t wait to try more from their cookbook xx

  4. It’s hot there, yikes, 115 degree’s thats inhuman. Sorry about your mac too. know how it is to be without. Your falafel look amazing, and really love the idea of eating in a cabbage leaf rather than with bread, brilliant. Stay cool or at least try!!

  5. Falafel and raita are staple recipes at my place, so this really calls to me – such beautiful photos!
    I am with you, the heat is insufferable! But at least it has stared raining again which has brought it down a little! Hope it goes down for you too!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  6. Oh no! Tech problems are one of my biggest fears (and the IT working/loving/living Chris’s too). I hope your laptop is feeling tip-top again soon!
    These falafel with their gorgeous coating of coconut raita look like the perfect panacea for all our January heat problems. It’s not too hot over here at the moment but the humidity has us all feeling like we are swimming through jam (or apricot compote!). Can’t wait to make these, and put my feet up with a book and a cocktail some weekend evening soon!

  7. Oh dear…it’s when we are without it that we realise just how dependant we are on our favourite devices :/ And in all that heat too!

    You’ve managed to put such a beautiful spin on summer though, with your gorgeous images and such perfectly chosen dishes. I especially love your words about the luscious fruits on offer at this time of year… it made me very glad that I’m sharing the seasons with you!

    • Thanks Sam. Sigh, yep.. so true! I get the laptop news on Tuesday so I am keeping my fingers crossed until then! I’m most concerned about the data, I just want our family photos saved :( Glad that you enjoyed this post though! Hugs xx

  8. Good luck with that computer. Damn technology… Not quite tech enough to face the might of an Australian heat wave! I often think about how much it would suck if my lappy went down. It would not be awesome at all!
    Nice falafel :)

    • Yes, exactly Graz. It’s not built for Aussie conditions I think. Maybe I should’ve poured some VB over it or something, might have done it a load of good ;) (ick, VB… what am I thinking?!)

  9. My laptop too died last week – the screen gave in on me so i sympathise (my new one is on route from Dell). Also love the coconut raita – i use a yoghurt base so will try this!

    • Oh on, i am so sorry! I wouldn’t wish this horrible tech problem upon anyone! Hope that you are loving your new laptop? I get mine back on Tues, so fingers crossed! x

  10. Your poor laptop :( I hope it feels better soon. And I SO knew before even clicking the link that it was going to the IT Crowd. Hahahahaha, so funny! And it really does work (some of the time. Your laptop is clearly suffering from a greater malaise). Aaron’s PC sounds totally disorientating but I’m glad you got your head round it to post this recipe because it is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. I love the idea of the coconut raita and nut butter combo. YUM :D

    • YES, it really does work sometimes!!! But not this time, sad face. I get it back on Tuesday from the diagnostics so fingers crossed. Oh, and Trix, I got your email but then the iPad died and I don’t know where it went. But I got the parcel last week! THANKYOU! Yours is still awaiting its trip to the post office, I don’t know how you manage to stay so organised! Argh! Sending you hugs from Aaron’s disorientating PC (another sad face) xx

  11. Oh I love that these are baked! I hate frying. Sometimes though, you need to fry.
    They look so delicious.
    Sorry about your weather, we’ve been experiencing the opposite (I write about my weather in my post!)
    It has been freezing, not a day goes by where we’re not getting snow flakes.
    Thought you’d be interested in knowing that iPhones don’t work in extreme cold either :)
    My hubby happened to have his phone in his pocket when he was shovelling the side walks.
    After he came in, he realised his phone was in his pocket and it didn’t work.
    It had to “cool” down…it was also confused.

    Take care, Laura!

    • Oh wow, I never even thought about the impact of cold upon electronics! Very true! Sorry for taking so long to reply to this, I have been struggling without my computer and… ah, I hate this PC of Aaron’s (despite having lots of gratitude for the fact that he has leant it to me!). I echo your thoughts about frying. Sometimes baking just doesn’t work! xx

  12. These look perfect and light for this insanely stinking hot weather. You are so right, it has been nothing short of meltingly hot. I love the heat, but over 40 C is getting on a bit ridiculous! I have been looking for a gluten free non-fried version of falafels and its weird you have posted this before I managed to find a recipe I wanted. Weird, because it fells like you read my mind, but also brilliant, because my search is over!

    • Thanks so much Martine. Argh, I am glad that you enjoy the heat… Aaron does too, I wish that I did! Hope that you enjoyed these falafels, I loved them. I think I’m just about ready to make another batch ;) xx

  13. GAH! I just had this long comment typed out and accidentally closed the tab.

    Commence shortened version:
    I am so excited to try this recipe!! My brother asked for falafel mix for his birthday, but it is nowhere to be found around here, so I will make your recipe, and I KNOW it will be ten thousand times better than some box mix. :D

    Also, I’m sorry you are being excruciatingly tormented by the heat! :( It really sounds awful. I find it crazy how truly polar opposite our weather is on opposite parts of the world. It gets to literally a hundred degrees colder here this time of year, but at least I can (for the most part) escape to heaps of blankets and hot mugs of cocoa. Fargo is the #2 coldest city in the US, but I can’t say that I’d trade places with you, haha.

    Hope you’re having a lovely 2015 so far! Sending hugs, blessings, and lots of cold fronts your way. ;)
    xxxx

    • Oh noooo! I am so sorry, that is so annoying (I’ve lost comments quite a few times, it makes me want to jump up and down in frustration!). Thanks for typing things out again! Hope that you’re staying warm over there, it’s so strange to think that we are roasting whilst you are freezing.
      Oh, and by the way, we listened to your mix tape again twice whilst doing our south west road trip last week. So grateful for your friendship. Hugs and so much love and blessings across the seas! xxxx

  14. Computer problems!! Gack! I am seeing myself in your position soon – my trusty iMac is on its last legs and I can’t wait for my tax return to get a new one! I am so sorry this happened – it makes us feel powerless…

    However, your baked falafel made up for all the bad feelings! I love falafel butj hate the deep frying. Never thought of baking them! This will now be part of our healthier eating campaign for 2015.

    I hope you get your computer back soon. xo

    • You are so right. We rely so much on technology and it’s only when things crash that we realise how powerless we are! Fingers crossed that the data was retrievable, we get it back on Tuesday! Hope that you enjoyed the healthier falafel, they were deliciously surprising for us! Here’s to a healthier 2015 :) x

  15. Pingback: Meat Cake and Puppy Teeth « Laura's Mess

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