Falafel are great… or can be if they’re made right! The thing is you need to put bags of flavour in there. You need serious amounts of garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt. And then of course there’s the spices. For me it has to be heavy on the cumin, probably my favourite spice and a little paprika and ginger help give an extra zing to the proceedings. A good handful of fresh herbs give the finishing touch.
Falafel are surprisingly easy to make. The main ingredient, chickpeas, are incredibly cheap too!
I like to have Falafel just as they are accompanied by a nice salad, maybe some Tabbouleh and lashings of Tzatziki… Oops, I’m beginning to sound like a vegetarian!
Once cooked they can also be warmed in a sauce, a nice rich tomato sauce works well. They’re almost like a vegetarian version of a meatballs.
So here’s a recipe you can follow to make your own. It uses dried chickpeas which have to be soaked overnight. I’m sure if you wanted you could cheat and use tinned, if you do you’ll want about double the amount of dried.
‘Ome Made Falafel
You will need:
- 500g dried chickpeas
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chilli
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
Soak the chickpeas overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas then grind to a course pulp in a food processor.
Mix in all the other ingredients using your hands to really work the mixture together.
Form into 4cm balls and place on greaseproof paper on a tray in a single layer.
To cook the Falafel are best deep fried or shallow fried and then finished off in an oven.If deep frying the oil wants to be around 160°C so that they will cook through without the outside getting too well done Take the Falafel out of the oil when they are firmed up and just starting to colour. The Falafel can be par cooked like this and then cooled and refrigerated or frozen. The Falafel can then just be popped into an oven to finish cooking.
Alternatively the Falafel can just be deep or shallow fried.
Easter Thai Time!
So for Easter Sunday this year we decided to have Thai.
We were having friends and Family around for Dinner so we decided to keep it simple.
So of course it had to be Thai Fishcakes and the ubiquitous Thai Green Chicken Curry. These were complimented by some nice crunchy pickled vegetables, cucumber sauce and Thai sweet chilli sauce.
The fishcakes were made a couple of days beforehand and re-heated in the oven for 35 minutes beforehand, they reheated really well and saved time on the day. The Thai green curry paste was also made in advance to save time.
Unfortunately there are no pictures of the Thai Green Chicken Curry (I’ve put one in of a previous creation) but I’ve included the recipe anyway for anyone that wants a go.
First up the pastes. These will make more than you need but if you fry them in some oil and put them in sterilised jars they will keep in the fridge for six weeks or so. By the way if you’re one of those Veggie or Vegan types you can omit the shrimp paste.
Thai Green Curry Paste
2 teaspoons coriander seeds (or two level teaspoons ground coriander)
18 small, hot green chilli peppers
2 stems of lemongrass
3 tablespoon galangal sliced (or ginger)
1 tablespoon kaffir (if you can get them, normal if not) lime zest
30g/1oz coriander (if you can get it with the root on add that too)
6 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
60g/2oz shallots or onion chopped
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground white pepper (yes you can substitute black but white gives a truer and better flavour)
Add all the ingredients (starting with the hardest first) into a food processor or wet grinder and blitz to a smooth paste adding a little oil if necessary.
Thai Red Curry Paste
10 – 15 dried red chillies (soaked in hot water for twenty minutes or so)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 stems lemongrass sliced
6 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
60g/2oz shallots or onion sliced
3 tablespoon galangal or ginger sliced
1 1/2 tablespoon shrimp paste
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
add all the ingredients into a food processor or wet grinder and blitz to a smooth paste as above.
Thai Fish Cakes (Tod Man Pla)
this makes approximately 22
375g/13oz white fish (haddock, cod, Pollock!)
1 large squid tube
1/4 portion of red curry paste (roughly a tablespoon)
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon softened palm sugar or dark brown sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves soaked in hot water
55g/2oz yard-long beans (or any round green bean) cut into thin slices
1 small egg beaten
Prepare the fish and squid taking the bones and skin off the fish and removing the backbone, beak and intestines from the squid then rinsing. Roughly chop and process the fish in batches into a smooth paste. CurlyE was helping me with this – “Urgghhh! that looks like snot!” to be fair he was right! Mix in the other ingredients with just enough egg to bind without being sloppy.
Form the mixture into balls using about a dessert spoon of mixture for each one (having a bowl of cold water and keeping your hands wet will stop the mixture sticking to your hands). Flatten your balls into disks about 5mm thick.
place the fishcakes on greaseproof paper on a tray (if all the ingredients were fresh and not previously frozen they can be flash frozen at this stage).
To cook from fresh deep fry for approximately 3 minutes, from frozen give them about 4 – 5 minutes.
We love pickled vegetables in our house. They make a lovely side dish to all South East Asian food. Even a bit of poached chicken on some plain boiled rice is livened up and made into a tasty refreshing dish with the addition of them.
The choice of vegetable is up to you. In this instance we used baby sweet corn, onion, carrot strips, white cabbage and some green beans. We also did one jar with some sliced chilli in, some like it hot! The pickling liquor is quite light, so these will not keep for months but they should keep for a couple weeks in the fridge.
To make your pickling liquor you want roughly 50/50 vinegar to water, some sugar to taste and some bits n bobs in it to flavour (Lemongrass trimmings, coriander seeds, garlic, ginger or whatever takes your fancy).
Simmer the mixture for 20 – 30 minutes until the sugar has melted and the flavours have infused the liquor.
Prepare your veg and place in a colander over a bowl. sprinkle with salt, give it a toss and leave for 20 minutes to draw some of the water out. after twenty minutes give the veg a rinse, drain and then put in clean jars (sterilised if not using within a week). Strain your vinegar liquor while still hot and pour over the vegetables to cover. It will be ready after 24 hours.
Sorry it’s not much of a recipe but it’s just one of those things I do on the fly!
Sweet Chilli/Cucumber sauce
In a pan put 175ml/6 fl oz water, 250g/9 oz sugar, 2 teaspoons salt and 175ml/6 fl oz white vinegar. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
Put 1/2 of the above mixture in a serving bowl, add a dash of fish sauce and light soy sauce. Finely dice some cucumber and add to the sauce. And that’s the cucumber sauce done.
To the remaining vinegar mix in the pan add 2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes or a couple of finely diced fresh red chillies and two teaspoons of strawberry or raspberry jam. Bring to the simmer again and cook until the jam has dissolved, that’s your sweet chilli done.
Thai Green Chicken Curry
Enough for 6 – 8 people
30g/1oz fresh coriander
1 generous tablespoon green curry paste
4 kaffir lime leaves (soaked in water if dried) shredded
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 400ml can coconut milk
6 – 8 chicken breasts sliced (roughly 1 kilo/2.2lb)
1 heaped teaspoon dark brown sugar or a couple lumps of palm sugar
a dash of soy sauce
a dash of fish sauce
some Thai basil leaves shredded
2 Thai red chillies thinly sliced
juice of two limes
Blitz the fresh coriander in a food processor. Heat some oil in a large pan and add the curry paste, fresh coriander, lime leaves and the spices. Fry for a couple of minutes, stirring so the mixture doesn’t burn. Add the coconut milk, bring to a simmer and cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken and if necessary enough water to just cover the chicken. Bring to the simmer and cook gently, covered for approximately 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a further 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Serve with some plain rice or noodles and a little pickled veg and mango salad on the side.
Dice a whole mango and place in a serving bowl. Add a dash of vinegar, black pepper, a sliced red chilli and a sprinkling of soft dark brown sugar. Top with some toasted and crushed cashew nuts before serving.
So that was our Easter Sunday Dinner. It might not have been traditional but it was damn good!
Oh… yes there was dessert but it was just a boring old trifle… and erm…. the custard didn’t set… whoops!
The trifle was a bit sloppy but that wasn’t going to stop me!
Here’s a traditional English dish given an ‘Ome Made twist, to be fair it was Kits idea. I was just going to do the plain English dish of lamb shoulder baked on top of layers of potato and onion, which in it’s own right is delicious. Add some spice, herbs and a curry sauce though and it takes the dish to a completely different level… This really was scrumptious! This is a fantastic dish to prepare the day before so that you can bang it in the oven the next day, forget about it and get on with all those things you need to catch up on, take the kids out or… go to the pub!
It really is simple. You will need a full or 1/2 shoulder of lamb. Some White potatoes, onions and garlic. I also used some dried mint, fresh coriander and some red chillies.
First of all slice some potatoes (skin on) thinly and some onions. These need to be layered in a deep buttered baking dish. I did about four layers adding seasoning as I went along. On the middle layer I put a heap of chopped fresh coriander, a couple of chopped red chillies and some dried mint. On the top layer I sprinkled some more mint and some black cumin seeds.
I then fried some mild curry masala in a little oil and added some chicken stock and let this cook for twenty minutes or so. Next prepare the lamb. With a sharp knife make a few slits in the meat and push in some pieces of garlic. Now rub the lamb all over with some Kashmiri Chilli powder and some ground cumin. Sit the lamb on top of the layered potatoes and onions and give it a good grind of black pepper and a good sprinkling of salt. Pour your curry sauce into the corners of the baking dish. You want enough so that it comes about 1/2 way up your potato and onion layer. Now cover the whole baking dish with a double layer of foil, creating a tight seal. When your ready to cook pre heat your oven to 200°c. Put the lamb in the oven and then turn the temperature down to 165°c Which means the lamb will be ready after about four hours (but should be fine up to six). If you want to cook it for longer (or your having a really long session in the pub!) then you can cook the lamb on 145°c. The lamb will then be ready after six hours but be even better after around eight hours. To finish the dish off, remove the baking dish from the oven. Carefully remove the lamb to a warmed plate or dish. The meat should be falling off the bone. The layered potatoes then need to go back in a hot oven to brown and start to crisp up. If the liquid is above the potatoes just spoon some off ’till you can see the top layer. Put the baking dish back in the oven for about twenty minutes.
To serve, pull apart the lamb, spoon out some potato into a dish and place the lamb on top, spoon a bit more of the curry sauce over. A nice dollop of natural yoghurt goes nicely with the dish but that’s all it really needs. A tasty, warming and comforting dish for a lovely lazy Sunday. Give it a go!