Sweet Potato Falafels

By Victoria Glass •

Victoria proves that falafels can be versatile, easy and inexpensive to make - in this recipe she adds sweet potatoes, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make this dish packed with flavour. 

These deep fried spicy patties can be enjoyed by everyone, from vegans and the gluten intolerant to the meat-eating masses, like me. These ones have the extra interest of sweet potato, which, aside from adding a pleasant flavour boost, also keeps the falafel mixture deliciously moist.
Falafels are having something of a renaissance of late. No longer the preserve of vegetarians, everyone wants in on the action. You can find all sorts of exciting variations, often involving root vegetables, from carrots and squashes to beetroots or even parsnip and ginger.  Who said you shouldn’t play with your food?
Falafels can be dull if not given the right care and respect. Chickpeas, although nutty and full of vegetable protein, are not going to set the world on fire in the flavour stakes. At least, not without a little help. I know 5 cloves of garlic sounds like a lot, but trust me on this one, falafels, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, need a lot of garlic to stand up for themselves. Herbs and spices too, should not be skimped on, especially if, like me, you have an aversion to bland food. It’s definitely advisable to fry off a teaspoon of the mixture to taste for seasoning, before committing to cooking the whole lot.

And a whole lot there certainly is. Falafels are cheap as chips to make and a single tin of chickpeas can be enough to feed the 5,000. Well, eight or nine people at least.  You can easily make them a little bigger and pat them down to make hearty veggie burgers, or make them mini to turn them into canapés. Tasty and economical, a good falafel recipe should be in everyone’s repertoire.
I like to serve them with a simple tahini sauce made of light tahini, lemon juice, a little crushed garlic, salt and pepper and enough water until it’s about the consistency of pouring cream. Just mix it all up and taste for zest and seasoning, before drizzling it over your falafels.

Sweet Potato Falafels

Makes 24

½ a tin of chickpeas, drained
125g podded broad beans, or more chickpeas
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
5 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
A thumb of ginger, grated
A generous handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
A generous handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
A small bunch of mint, finely chopped
1 level tsp. baking powder
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
A generous grind of black pepper
2 tbsp. gram flour
125g peeled sweet potato, finely grated
Sunflower oil, for frying

Simply bung all of the ingredients, except for the sweet potato, into a food processor and blitz until fairly smooth, with a few nubbly bits still left in. Fold through the sweet potato until fully incorporated. Decant the mixture into a bowl, cover in cling film and pop the mixture in the fridge for an hour or two to chill.
Roll the mixture into balls between your hands, each about the size of a golf ball.

Heat the oil in a wide and heavy bottomed saucepan/skillet until it reaches 180˚C/350˚F, or until a breadcrumb thrown into the oil immediately sizzles. Carefully lower the falafels into the oil with a slotted spoon. Leave for about a minute before turning over. Once the falafels are a rich golden brown all over, carefully remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper.
Serve with salad leaves and tahini sauce, in or out of a toasted pitta bread pocket (gluten free pittas are available in most supermarkets).

If you're interested in cooking more vegetarian dishes, visit Great British Chefs for more vegetarian recipes.


I used a 400g tin of chickpeas, which has a drained weight of 240g. Hope that helps...
15 July 2014
What size tin of chickpeas are you using? Around me there are 3 different sizes.
15 July 2014

Victoria Glass

Victoria is a London based food writer. She founded Victoria's Cake Boutique in 2008 & her first two books, Boutique Wedding Cakes and Deliciously Vintage are out now. Her celebrity clients include Miranda Hart, Dave Gorman and Zach Braff. She's cooked her way through the alphabet from artichokes to za'atar zebra on her blog, Alphabet Soup. She is currently writing her fourth book and her third is out in September. She has just been appointed the food writer in residence at The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre.

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