Falafels are one of my favourite Middle Eastern foods, and although I enjoy the real thing from time to time, I’ve always wanted to make a more paleo-friendly version without the legumes. To all falafel purists out there… I know this is not a real falafel. I could call these “cauliflower, tahini and cashew patties,” but where is the fun in that?
These lovely patties are fluffy and soft, and moister than the traditional falafels. I actually find some deep-fried falafels – especially store-bought – too dry and coarse.
I love eating paleo falafels simply dipped in a little spicy dipping sauce, chilli aioli, baba ghanoush dip, or wrapped in lettuce leaves with some kimchi or sauerkraut. You can use them to top a salad or serve as a side dish with meat, fish and vegetables.
By the way, kids won’t even know they’ve got veggies inside.
Tahini is a little bit like peanut butter but made from sesame seeds. You can usually find it in most supermarkets and health food stores. I used the ‘hulled’ sesame tahini, which is lighter in colour.
Tapioca flour/starch or coconut flour can be used to bind the mixture together and to give it some density. You can find these flours in most health food stores and online (see notes below). Arrowroot flour or cassava flour can be used instead of tapioca, or even some buckwheat or quinoa flour or almond meal.
I baked these falafel balls but you can also pan-fry them in a little coconut oil or avocado oil.
For the falafels
- 1/2 cup cashews soaked in warm water for 1 hour (at least 20 mins)
- 2 large florets cauliflower or 4-5 smaller ones (see picture)
- 4 florets broccoli
- 2 large cloves garlic peeled
- 1 small red onion or young white onion
- 1.5 tablespoons tahini
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed powder
- 2/3 teaspoon coriander seed powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds optional
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- Handful of fresh parsley roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons tapioca flour or 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon ghee and 1 teaspoon coconut oil, or 2 teaspoons of either
For the dipping sauce
- 1 teaspoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce or chilli sauce/flakes
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 200° C / 400° F. Grease a sheet of baking paper with some ghee or coconut oil.
- Place all ingredients, except for tapioca/coconut flour, in a food processor. Grind and process everything into fine crumbs until the mixture starts coming together (coming away from the sides and wrapping into itself). It should take about 2 minutes, including scraping off the sides as you go along. If you find that the vegetables are not grinding properly, I suggest to do this in two batches and then mix and process two batches together again once you have smaller crumbs. As you're grinding the mixture, it will produce some moisture, so don't rush to add any water or think it's too dry.
- Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and sprinkle with tapioca and coconut flours. Mix well together allowing the flours to soak up some of the moisture and make the mixture more sticky.
- Scoop 1 tablespoon of the mixture and shape it into a small ball in your hands. Use the spoon to help you shape and flatten the ball slightly. Place on the baking sheet lined oven tray. Continue with the rest of the mixture.
- Melt about a teaspoon of each ghee and coconut oil in a little saucepan or microwave. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, coat the top of the falafels with a thin layer of melted oil.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the tray and turn the falafels over very gently. Place back in the oven for 15 minutes and reduce the heat to 180° C / 360° F. Once the time is up, remove from the oven and cool slightly before transferring to a plate.
- To make the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Serve on the side.