Blackbean and Veggie Falafels

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I am glad to admit that I am not a purist. There is something a bit more personal and exciting about bending the norms a little. At least in the food we enjoy! Think about it…if you always followed the same cake or casserole recipe, won’t you be bored? That’s when we get creative with tossing in a little bit of this and that or “wing it” along the way.

These falafels are the result of going with the flow and keeping my fingers crossed that they won’t be a crumbly or horrible tasting mess. Inspiration for this recipe, which uses cauliflower, sweet potato and black beans came from watching the recent trends with cauliflower everything, including pizza crust! PIZZA CRUST! If cauliflower could be a pizza crust, it better be a darn good falafel. And it delivered!

Honestly, these falafels are a winner not not because they have a good doze of veggies, but also because they are oven-baked with a light drizzle of oil and not deep fried like the traditional ones. What is not to love about it, right?! These delicious bites held their shape, stored well for few days refrigerated and made a perfect match as a salad topper or filler for a pita. So, go ahead and make a batch! You can drop a thank you note later! 🙂

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Blackbean and Veggie Falafels

  • Servings: 18-20 falafels
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Note about Prep Time: Prep time is about 20 min, refrigeration for about 30 min and cook (bake) time about 45 min.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups grated cauliflower

1 1/2 cups grated sweet potato

1/4 cup finely chopped onions

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Salt to taste

1 14.5oz black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup chickpea flour

1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Dry roast coriander and cumin seeds for 5 min over low heat and grind to a powder in a dry grinder or in a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and saute the vegetables, including onion and garlic. Add the ground spices, salt, paprika and cayenne. Let cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, mash the drained blackbeans. Add the vegetable mixture and chickpea flour and thoroughly mix in. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. Take the refrigerated falafel mixture out and form into about 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls.
  6. Arrange on a parchment lined baking tray and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
  7. Bake for about 25 min. Turn over and continue to bake for another 20 min till firm and golden.
  8. Serve immediately in a salad or as a wrap. Refrigerate remaining falafels.

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Quick and Easy Naan Bread

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Everyone that has ever tried or know something about Indian food knows naan. It’s one of those quintessential item found on almost any Indian restaurant menu. Typically, naans are cooked in extremely high heat clay pot “ovens” giving them the characteristic texture and flavor. Having said that, can a version of the flatbread be made in a home kitchen for those of us that don’t have access to a tandoor oven? Of course, and I am going to share an easy recipe here.

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You will find many naan recipes online – using different flours, with or without egg, with or without yogurt, ghee (clarified butter) etc. I have had my own versions – with/without egg, using all-purpose flour, combination of all-purpose and whole wheat, bread flour etc. I made this recipe for few guests who prefer the taste of all-purpose flour. Feel free to replace half the flour with whole wheat without sacrificing the texture or taste. Also, since this recipe does not use any eggs, it is good for people who don’t/can’t eat eggs.

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A whole cup of yogurt used in this recipe gives the naans a slight tang without being overpowering. Lastly, you can mix in 1 – 2 tablespoons of dried herbs (or about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh herbs) such as mint, cilantro or even green onions or finely minced garlic or curry powder to the dry mix before adding the liquids. I used a mix of dried herbs in mine and have prepared past batches with garlic (yum!).

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These naans can be prepared ahead of time, cooked and frozen. Just dab with a pat of butter and reheat just before serving. Enjoy warm naans with curries, or as a pizza crust, pita etc.

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Quick and Easy Naan Bread

  • Servings: 12 naans
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Ingredients
5 cups all-purpose flour (or half whole wheat and half all-purpose)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used kosher)
2 tablespoons butter, melted (or ghee)
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm 1% milk
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup fat free plain yogurt
2 tablespoons crushed dried herbs (I used mint and fenugreek leaves)
Oil for coating the bowl to proof the dough
Additional ghee (clarified butter for cooking the naan), optional

Preparation
1. Mix all dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl or large, flat container.
2. Stir together warm water, milk, melted butter/ghee, yeast and honey.
3. Add yogurt to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
4. Add liquid mixture and form into a dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes till an elastic dough forms. If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon or so of flour, but no more.
5. Coat a large bowl with oil and place dough in it. Let proof in a warm place (or in a turned off oven) for 1-2 hours till the dough doubles in size.
6. Break dough into 12 equal size portions and flatten each on a floured surface into an oblong shape (or a circle if you prefer) about 1/4 inch thick.
7. Heat a cast iron pan or a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Cook naans one at a time for 2-3 minutes on each side. Brush with melted butter or ghee and store covered in a kitchen towel.
8. Serve the naans with your favorite curry or make as a pizza or a pita wrap. Enjoy!