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When I travelled through the Middle East, I fell in love with the tasty convenience of the falafel. So fresh & flavoursome. Unfortunately back in Aus, its hard to find anything other than the greasy fast-food variety. Such a shame. They have so much more potential. Tastewise & healthwise. This version uses chickpeas as its base, is baked not fried, and is filled with fresh herbs and spices. I mostly use them in wraps or serve them as the protein next to a fresh salad.

A few healthy points… Chickpeas are a good source of fiber, folic acid, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper & zinc. Vego’s will love them because when served with a whole grain, they form a complete protein. Diabetics should love them because they are good at lowering cholesterol and improving blood sugar. And wine-lovers will love them because they contain a good store of the trace mineral molybdenum which the body uses to break down sulfites, a preservative commonly found in wine and often responsible for that morning after headache.*

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Purchase, storage & prep pointers… I always buy dried chickpeas in bulk. They taste better, are cheaper and they take up less storage space. (Canned ones always seem too soggy.) If kept in an air tight container, they last 12 months easily. Cook a batch at the start of the week and throw them in salads, soups or stews as you need. 1 cup of dried chickpeas gives you about 400 grams cooked, equivalent to one can.

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To prepare 1 cup of dried chickpeas, soak them in water overnight, then rinse and drain them. Bring 3-4 cups of water to the boil, add chickpeas and then simmer for 2 hours. They should be firm to initial touch but easily squished. (Most sources advise 2 hours but I often find 1 is enough.) Don’t add any salty or acidic seasonings while cooking, or they will toughen up and take longer to cook. Whenever possible use some of the cooking liquid with the beans, as the B vitamins and folic acid will leak into the water while cooking. Once cooked, chickpeas will keep for 3-5 days in the fridge.

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And yes these came camping with us too.

Chickpea Falafels
Makes around 20 balls.

Ingredients
1 garlic clove
1/2 small red onion
1 carrot
1 cup dry chickpeas or 1 400gm can
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Large handful of fresh herbs (I used chives, coriander & mint)
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp arrowroot flour (can substitute with corn flour)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180°/350° and line a baking tray with baking paper
2. In a food processer dice garlic, onion & carrot
3. Add all remaining ingredients and blend to a chunky paste. When you pick up a small handful it should squish together and hold nicely.
4. Roll out into balls about an inch in diameter and place on baking tray.
5. Bake for 15 mins, turn them over (so you get an even brownness) and then bake for another 10min.

Thermomix Method
1. Preheat oven to 180°/350° and line a baking tray with baking paper
2. Chop garlic, onion, carrot & herbs blend 3sec/speed 7
3. Add all remaining ingredients, mix 10 sec/speed 6. If needed pulse further to reach desired consistency. When you pick up a small handful it should squish together and hold nicely.
4. Roll out into balls about an inch in diameter and place on baking tray.
5. Bake for 15 mins, turn them over (so you get an even brownness) and then bake for another 10min.

Serve with a fresh yoghurt & herb dressing or a drizzle of tahini. They will keep for at least. 5 days in the fridge.

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