When creating my latest cookbook, The Diabetic Comfort Food Cookbook: Foods to Fill You Up, Not Out, I knew the usual suspects would be in there; Mac and Cheese, Chicken Pot Pie, etc. But falafel? Well, falafel to me is a comfort food perhaps even more than sliced meat loaf.
You see, every Sunday my Mom (who has had diabetes since she was 39) would gather my sister and I for our weekly cooking lesson. Oh we cooked practically every day of the week, but Sundays were special. We often made something a bit more challenging, and more times than not, it was something from Middle East origin. Although my Mom and sister have not been to the region as I have, we had so many friends from Israel growing up, it was like preparing something familiar, yet different from our weekday meals that I think intrigued my Mom.
So I bring to you our healthy falafel recipe from the house of Berman (my maiden name) and hope that you will begin or continue to create some wonderful warm food memories in your kitchen too.
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of turmeric
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
for the sauce
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons sesame tahini
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon water
sea salt, to taste
4 medium whole-wheat pita breads
1 heart of romaine lettuce, shredded
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Put the chickpeas in a bowl with the oil and use a potato masher to mash them until smooth. Mix in the cumin, cayenne pepper, turmeric, garlic, lemon juice, carrot, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Alternatively, mix all the ingredients, except the carrot and cilantro, in a food processor. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the carrot and cilantro.
2. Shape the mixture into 16 flat, round patties, each about 1 1/4 inches across, and palce them on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crips and lightly browned, turning them over halfway through the cooking time.
3. About 3 minutes before the falafels have finished cooking, put the pita breads in the oven to warm. Split the breads in half widthwise and gently open out each hal to make a pocket.
4. Half-fill the pita bread pockets with the shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes. then divide the flaafels among them. Mix together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, mint, cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste, and drizzle over the falafels. Serve hot.