Oil-free Vegan Falafels (with a twist!)

I’ve been craving falafels lately (I mean, who doesn’t from time to time?!), so I decided to have a go at making them at home. The ready-made ones in the supermarkets are quite pricey plus they are deep fried in oil, so I figured it was pretty much a win-win if I could successfully make some oil-free versions at home. Healthier, cheaper…and surprisingly delicious if I do say so myself!

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This is different from the standard falafel recipe, as you may notice. I mixed in some Indian spices, plus I used a cheesecloth to separate the chickpea “milk” from the chickpea pulp. I then used the milk afterwards for an exciting vegan cheesecake recipe which I’ll be posting about shortly!

Here are the ingredients I used for the falafels:

  • one cup dry chickpeas
  • sweet Mayan onion
  • fenugreek leaves (a handful of parsely would be more conventional, but I love the taste of fenugreek)
  • tahini
  • garam masala
  • madras curry powder
  • cumin
  • ajwain
  • crushed chili pepper
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • starch (if needed to help hold the mixture together)

I started by soaking the chickpeas overnight. A traditional falafel recipe would then blend the water and the chickpeas together with all of the ingredients, but instead, the next morning I blended the chickpeas and the water until smooth, and then used a fine cheesecloth to drain out all the chickpea milk and set that aside for my dessert recipe!

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Draining out the milk
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chickpea milk
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chickpea pulp

Into the chickpea pulp, I mixed the rest of the ingredients listed above. Then, I just rolled the mixture into little balls and then grilled them up until they had a nice crispyness on the outside. That’s really all there is to it!

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All the ingredients mixed in, and ready to grill!

I served this with homemade hummus and a simple tahini sauce. For the tahini dressing, I just mixed together the following:

  • tahini
  • lemon juice
  • fresh garlic paste (garlic powder would also work well)

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Just for fun, I also tried making these mini falafel donuts. Same recipe, same process…but cuter.

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Magical Little Chickpeas (Hummus recipe!)

Remind me again why I’ve been buying hummus all these years?

I used to make hummus at home all the time, but recently I somehow fell into the habit of buying ready-made commercial hummus. Sure, it’s convenient and if you buy it at Costco like I do, it’s really quite affordable as well. But, it’s actually fun to make at home and you can adjust the flavour to your liking. Plus, not to mention once you’re done making it, you get to wipe up the blender and the spatula with thick slices of pita bread…which is a fantastic excuse to eat tons and tons of fresh, warm hummus! It’s all in the details.

For this batch, I thoroughly rinsed about 500 grams of dried chickpeas, brought them to a slow boil, and then let them sit overnight (or, for about 6 hours). The next morning, I brought them to a slow boil again and let simmer until soft.

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Next, I filled up my Vitamix blender about 2/3 of the way with the chickpeas, and then added in the following ingredients. (All measurements are very approximate, so be sure to adjust to your liking!)

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • crushed chili peppers

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There were enough chickpeas that I made two batches like this, and still had enough left over to make some vegan chickpea “tuna” salad and a bit of chana masala curry. And, don’t forget that if you have some of the water left over after having cooked your chickpeas (otherwise known as aquafaba), you can use this as an effective egg white replacement in vegan baking!

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty impressed with the versatility of chickpeas. They’re healthy, cheap, delicious…and adorable. My new favorite legume.

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Japanese Sweets…Little Bites of Heaven

Japanese sweets are up at the very top of my list when it comes to desserts. They’re so creative and pretty, and so many seem to have their own unique history or regional twist. The flavor is usually subtle with a mild sweetness, so they’re perfect if you’re not up to very sugary foods.

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A lot of them have some type of filling, the most popular being the traditional sweet red bean paste or white bean paste. In the more modern versions,  it’s also very common to find custard cream or chocolate cream.

The other day, I visited a nearby traditional Japanese sweets shop called Kanokoya. As soon as we stepped inside, we were offered free green tea and sweets on lacquered trays. How amazing is that?! We got to sit down and enjoy our treats while we pondered what to get.

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The variety that they served us are called cha manju, which literally means, “tea sweet”. The colour comes from brown sugar or molasses, and they are filled with read bean jam that tastes just like creamy chocolate! Considering that they’re a dessert, cha manju are incredibly healthy, using no oil or eggs. They’re pretty much just flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and red beans.

I think I may need to visit again and try out the rest, but for now I settled on four types of sweets. Here’s what I got:

– A walnut bun with sweet red bean filling:

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– A doughnut filled with sweet red bean paste:

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– A white bun sweetened with Japanese rice wine and filled with red bean paste:

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– And…a sweet, gooey rice cake with red bean paste filling, and whole red beans on the outside:

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There are of course all sorts of different choices, but red bean paste just happens to be my favorite, so that may end up being a common theme throughout the rest of my trip! Just to give you an idea though, they also had orange, strawberry, banana, sweet white bean, chestnut, and sweet potato fillings.

For this visit, I just stuck to the good old fashioned hardy sweets. These are the kind that people can enjoy on a pretty much regular basis. Nothing too fancy, with simple hardy ingredients. To me, these are actually the best type, but I’m also looking forward to trying out some of the more decadent sweets that are decked out with all kinds of decorations and designs.