Sweet potato falafel

Falafel is versatile, easy to make and inexpensive. Serve them with crisp salad leaves, warm pitta and a tangy tahini dressing for a satisfying lunch, or try making a big batch to enjoy throughout the week. Victoria adds sweet potatoes to boost the flavour of her falafels, keeping them deliciously moist.

First published in 2016

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 at least eight people. 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


Place all the ingredients – except for the sweet potato – in a blender and pulse until fairly smooth, but still chunky in places
Fold through the sweet potato until fully incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 1–2 hours
Using the palm of your hand, roll the mixture into small balls about the size of a golf ball
Heat the oil in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan to 180˚C
Carefully lower the falafels into the oil with a slotted spoon. Leave for about 1 minute before turning over. Once the falafels are a rich golden brown, carefully remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and 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)
First published in 2016

Victoria is a London-based food writer and recipe developer. She was the Roald Dahl Museum’s first ever Gastronomic Writer in Residence and has written six books, including her latest, Too Good To Waste.

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