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Falafels are a delightful and nutritious superfood snack that checks all the boxes when it comes to high nutrition, fibre, and flavour.
Originating from the Middle East, these mini patties are classically made with a combination of chickpeas or fava beans, flour, egg, and a blend of aromatic spices. However, this recipe takes it up a notch by incorporating cooked sweet potato, roasted quinoa or chickpea flour, and a delicious coating of sesame seeds.
The result? An explosion of interesting flavours in every bite. While frying these sweet potato falafels gives them a perfectly crispy coating, you can also opt to oven-bake them for a healthier alternative. Indulge in the goodness of falafels without compromising on taste!
Are falafels naturally gluten-free?
Yes and no! While traditional falafel recipes primarily use chickpea or garbanzo flour, which naturally makes them gluten-free, it’s important to exercise caution. When purchasing store-bought falafels or ordering at restaurants, always double-check the ingredients list. Unfortunately, some falafels may contain wheat flour, posing a risk for those with gluten sensitivities. Moreover, for individuals with celiac disease, it’s crucial to ensure that the falafels have been fried in clean oil that hasn’t been used for gluten-containing foods. This hidden cross-contamination can catch many people off-guard. So, stay informed and savour the gluten-free goodness of falafels with confidence!
Sweet potato falafels go perfectly with all sorts of dips. I chose a Yoghurt Cucumber Dip as it is refreshing and adds some tanginess to falafels. Other dips that come to mind are traditional Hummus or Tomato and Harissa Hummus.
If you are planning to assemble a dip platter, head to my blog to browse thorough several dip platter ideas and add these sweet potato falafels to one of the platters you select to make.
Poke bowls are all the rage at the moment, so get creative and customise your own bowl by adding these falafels with an assortment of your favourite vegetables, Tabbouleh and a dollop of your chosen dip.
If you have access to store-bought pita bread, make a pita wrap with a few sweet potato falafels stuffed in it with some salad and pour the yoghurt cucumber dip over. Although my Gluten-Free Flatbreads don’t have pockets in them like traditional pita bread, they do split apart and make a decent rustic sandwich for the falafels. Give it a go!
What falafel shape is best?
When making falafels, it’s important to shape them into a ball to ensure even frying. Deep-frying is the recommended method, but you can also successfully shallow-fry a patty-shaped falafel as I have done in this recipe by flipping it over or baking it in the oven.
Which bean is best for falafels?
There are various falafel recipes that use different beans or a combination. However, I personally prefer using chickpeas for my falafels due to their delicious flavour, slight nuttiness, and easy availability.
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are traditionally used in falafels and the word “falafel” actually evolved from the original Egyptian name for fava beans, “ful”.
Butterbeans can also be used to give the falafels a smoother and softer texture and are sometimes combined with chickpeas.
Regardless of the bean used, it’s worth noting that falafels are considered a superfood. If you opt to bake them instead of frying, you can enjoy a super healthy version of this tasty dish!
Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Falafels
SWEET POTATO FALAFELS
- 200 g sweet potatoes
- 100 g quinoa flour or chickpea flour
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 20 g fresh coriander leaves, chopped, or parsley leaves
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 60 g chickpeas, tinned or freshly made
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- 50 g cooked quinoa
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses or honey
- 1 egg white, lightly whisked
- store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour, to shape the falafels
- 50 g black & white sesame seeds, or white sesame seeds only, to coat
- sunflower or olive oil, to shallow fry
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges to serve
YOGHURT CUCUMBER DIP
- ½ long cucumber
- 200 ml plain Greek yoghurt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp garam masala or cumin powder (optional)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- rocket/argula leaves, to garnish
- whole, cooked chickpeas, to garnish
SWEET POTATO FALAFELS
Preparing the Falafel Mixture
- Peel and chop the sweet potato into small pieces.
- Bring some water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the sweet potatoes, lower the heat and simmer for 15 mins or until they are soft.
- Drain the water and add the sweet potatoes to a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a dry pan, roast the quinoa flour on med-low heat until it starts to catch some colour, stirring often. Add this to the sweet potatoes.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the sweet potatoes, except the sesame seeds, oil and lemon wedge.
- Use a combination of a potato masher and a wooden spoon to mix well.
- Chill for 30 mins or longer if time permits. This is a good time to prepare the Yoghurt Cucumber Dip.
Assembling the Falafels
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Remove the sweet potato mixture from the fridge and using two spoons or floured hands, shape the mixture into a ball measuring 4 cm in diameter.
- Roll them around the scattered sesame seeds to coat them evenly.
- Place them on a large plate or tray and press the ball down gently, forming a disc.
- Set aside while assembling the remaining falafels. The falafels can either be fried straight away or covered and chilled to cook later.
- Heat 1 cm of oil in a large frying pan to medium-low heat.
- Fry the falafels 5 cm apart for 2 ½ mins before flipping them over.
- Continue frying for a further 2 ½ mins. The coating should look golden and crisp.
- Transfer the falafels to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Alternatively, the falafels can be baked instead for 25-30mins at 180°C/350°F. Drizzle a little olive oil under and over the falafels before baking them to get a crispier coating.
- Serve immediately with sliced avocadoes, rocket leaves and whole chickpeas as a garnish and the Yoghurt Cucumber Dip.
YOGHURT CUCUMBER DIP
- Grate the unpeeled cucumber into a bowl and sprinkle some salt over them. Leave for 15 mins to remove the excess water.
- Mix all the remaining ingredients into a small bowl. Set aside.
- Rinse the grated cucumber under running water to remove the salt.
- Squeeze the grated cucumber with your hands to wring out the water and place it on a tea towel.
- Wrap the cucumber with the tea towel and squeeze to release the remaining excess water.
- Mix the grated cucumber into the dip mixture.
- Set aside or serve immediately.
- Keep for 5 days chilled
- Suitable to freeze
Yoghurt Cucumber Dip
- Keeps for 2 days chilled
- When serving the next day, more water may be released from the cucumbers, therefore simply drain the liquid from the bowl before mixing well.
- Not suitable to freeze