If you’ve ever thought of turning vegetarian, or you already are, it’s inevitably made easier by falafels. They’re universally liked and it’s no surprise why. Crunchy on the outside, soft in the centre, they’re feel-good food.
Two people who agree with us are Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice, authors of The Midlife Kitchen: Health-Boosting Recipes for Midlife and Beyond. “There’s something irresistible about the crunchy exterior and yielding centre of a good falafels—but the shop-bought versions often aren’t that inspiring,” they said.
But falafels, while delicious, look rather tricky to make at home and as mothers, Rice and Spencer, needed easy meals. So, they created their own recipe.
“There’s no faff to making falafel at home: our version is quick and easy, using ingredients that can be grabbed in a rush from the kitchen cupboard. We’ve coated them in a few of our favourite things—dukkah, sesame seeds, LSA—for that all-important Midlife lift.”
Makes 8 small or 6 large falafel
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp Midlife Spice Mix (see below) or 1 tsp ground coriander and 1 tsp ground cumin
a large handful of flat leaf parsley
juice of 1/2 a lemon
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
For the coatings
1 tbsp Midlife Sesame Seasoning (see below) or sesame seeds or 1 tbsp Midlife Dukkah (see below) or 1 tbsp Midlife LSA (see below), or ground almonds
2 wholemeal pitta breads
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 tbsp hummus
2 tbsp Zehug, (optional)
- Place all the falafel ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor and blitz to a coarse paste. Shape the mixture into 8 small or 6 large patties. Coat each in your chosen coating, patting so it sticks well. They can be chilled at this point, and cooked later.
- When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the falafels and fry for 5–7 minutes on each side until golden brown on the outside and cooked through.
- Serve in warm pittas, with the grated carrots, Zehug and hummus.
+ Tips and Tricks… Add any of the following to your falafel mix:
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- More chopped herbs, such as mint or coriander leaves
1Midlife Spice Mix (approx. 5 tbsp)
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cardamom
Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
+ Health hack… This combination of spices draws on Ayurvedic principles to enhance digestion and boost the metabolism. Spices have more recently been proven to have health-boosting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
2Midlife LSA (approx. 12 tbsp)
6 tbsp flaxseeds (another name for linseeds)
4 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp whole almonds (skin on)
Simply use a 3-2-1 ratio of L-S-A. Using a coffee grinder or spice mill, pulse the seeds and almonds in batches until finely ground. Transfer the mix to an airtight jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
+ Tips and Tricks… Due to the high oil content of ground flaxseeds, LSA should be kept in a dark jar in the fridge to prevent it turning rancid.
+ Health Hack… Flaxseed is a tough little dude, so it is best consumed in its ground form, which breaks down the shell and releases the nutrients within
3Midlife Sesame Seasoning (approx. 4 tbsp)
10 tsp black (or white) sesame seeds
1 tsp sea salt flakes
Using a pestle and mortar, pound the sesame seeds until lightly crushed (alternatively, whizz in a blender), then combine with the salt. Transfer the mixture to a jar and use as an alternative to salt.
+ Health Hack… Semi-salts can really reduce your salt consumption, while adding dazzling nutrient-rich flavour to any number of dishes. Plus, sesame seeds help with high cholesterol, osteoarthritis and can promote the cardiovascular health of menopausal women.
It’s also good…
- On dark green salads
- With French beans
- Sprinkled on an omelette or scrambled eggs
4Midlife Dukkah (approx. 10 tbsp)
2 tbsp whole almonds, blanched or with skins on
2 tbsp pistachio nuts
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
10 black peppercorns
10 pink peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt flakes
Place all the ingredients in a large, shallow frying pan and dry-fry over a medium heat for a few minutes until the nuts and seeds start to colour and pop, taking care not to burn them. Leave to cool.
Tip the mixture into a coffee grinder or spice mill and pulse until it resembles the coarse texture of a ‘dry rub’ seasoning. Alternatively, pound the mixture using a pestle and mortar.
Transfer the dukkah to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.
It’s also good…
- Sprinkled on soft-boiled eggs or fried eggs, in an egg mayonnaise or as a coating for peeled hard-boiled eggs
- As a topping for salads and soups
- Steamed asparagus, cauliflower, spinach or tenderstem broccoli, or scattered over grilled veggies
- As a rub for chicken or meat, folded into hummus or on a baked sweet potato topped with natural yogurt
Image and recipes extracted from The Midlife Kitchen: Health-Boosting Recipes for Midlife and Beyond by Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice, published by Hachette Australia in hardback ($39.99) and ebook ($19.99). Photography by Issy Crocker.