Oven Baked Falafel + All The Middle Eastern Dips You’ll Ever Need

Welcome back to QCK!

It’s July 4th. If you’re not feeling super patriotic this year, or haven’t in the past years, you’re not alone. The country built on immigrants has spent most of it’s modern day history working against them, families are being separated at the borders, kids are being held in cages, the ICE “detention centers” are actually concentration camps, the prison system is just another form of slavery. We’re in the midst of a poorly handled global pandemic, Donald Tr*mp praised a man yelling “White Power!” in a video on twitter, and Black Lives Matter is a controversial and political statement. Not convinced yet? Well, let me remind you that when Independence Day began, Black people were still slaves. So if you’re not feeling super proud of our country, that’s okay. It’s been a crap shoot from day one.

But what you can be proud of are the people in our country who are actively taking a stand to fight against the systemic racism and create a better, more unified future for all of us. Whether it’s putting your health and safety on the line to be out protesting for change and volunteering in the community, or staying in and writing emails, making phone calls, spreading information, donating, or educating yourself, it’s all necessary and it’s all important. Fighting this fight is something I wish none of us had to do in the first place, but the reality is that it’s here and it’s well past time. So if you’re fighting for everything Independence Day stands for, I’m proud of you and I’m celebrating you.

With all that being said, I’m not sharing any cutesy red, white and blue treats or grill recipes, instead I’m sharing a little piece of culture from my immigrant father. Because immigrants make America great.

My dad comes from Sudan, an East-African country right under Egypt, and home to the Nile River. In fact, the capital city of Khartoum is the merging point for the Blue Nile and White Nile. Sudan has undergone several uprisings and revolutions, one resulting in the split of the North and South. But what you might not know, is that the people of Sudan are currently in the midst of an uprising right now. The uprising has lasted over a year now and began as an attempt to overthrow the extremely corrupt president-turned-dictator, Omar al-Bashir. While they were successful in the removal, there has been extreme conflict around what a new government for the people of Sudan will look like. This conflict prompted the entry of military force which resulted in a massacre in Khartoum on June 3rd, 2019. This is the first mass killing since the Darfour Genocide. One year later and the people of Sudan are still protesting and standing their ground. As of today, the people of Sudan are on day 7 of the Nertiti Sit In. The demands are: dismissal of current governing administration, disarming all militaries, increased security and protection for citizens and their cattle during farming season, trying all perpetrators of crime, opening up of seasonal/cattle routs that limit confrontation between farmers and herders.

If all of that information was new to you, or even the country of Sudan is new to you, it’s because you probably didn’t learn about it in school. Maybe it’s time to start doing some research.

While Sudanese food may not be widely known, it’s delicious. Because of the countries proximity to the Middle East, the flavors and ingredients are very similar. One of the most important foods in Sudanese culture is bread. Sudan holds a long standing tradition of walking to the neighborhood bakery each morning to get fresh bread for the day, everyday. Not the usual crusty French bread that recieves so much praise here, but soft, fluffy pitas and mini baguette shaped loaves. Breakfast is black tea with cardamom, lots of sugar, and a couple scoops of Nido (dried milk powder), with Digestive cookies or graham crackers for dipping – this is my favorite part of Sudanese culture. Snacks are fresh picked grapefruits with sugar, or fresh cut sugar cane (another one of my favorites). The sugar can is cut into small pieces and peeled, you take a big bite out of it and suck all the juice out like a hard candy, then spit out the soft wood-like remains. Kethcup or cheese flavored potato chips are also a popular snack, if you can get your hands on them. Lunch and dinner usually consists of bread, some type of meat, goat and lamb are very popular, rice cooked with dried limes, turmeric, cardamom pods, cloves and raisins, Molokhia (stewed okra), Ful (prounuced fool, stewed and smashed fava beans) and homemade hot sauce.

As for street food, falafel sandwiches can be found on street corners all over the city of Khartoum. Pita bread cut in half and stuffed with falafel, ful, scrambled egg and hot sauce. They’re called Tatmia, and I think I ate one everyday when I visited Sudan. Also, fried chicken and fish are extremely popular throughout the country.

The recipes I’ll be sharing today are all common snacks in Sudan, all mixed in onto one big platter.

The Platter Includes:

  • Oven Baked Falafel: Usually they’re deep fried but my kitchen is called quarter cup for a reason and I don’t have any ventilation, so I just make my falafel in the oven.
  • Babaganoush: A roasted eggplant and tahini dip, absolutely delicious.
  • Ful: Fava beans stewed with onion and garlic then smashed and topped with sesame oil, tomatoes, feta cheese, and sometimes hard boiled egg or in this case roasted eggplant.
  • Hummus: A ground chickpea spread.
  • Lebneh Dip: Lebneh is an Arab version of yogurt, it’s thicker and creamier. The texture is closer to cream cheese than yugurt.
  • Roasted Chickpeas: With paprika and lemon.
  • Pita bread and Pita Chips

Things You Can Add:

  • Sliced Cucumbers
  • Roasted Vegetables such as bell peppers and eggplant
  • Arugula
  • Tahini
  • Feta or Halloumi
  • Olives
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Hot Sauce

Tips and Tricks

  • You will need a food processor for this project.
  • Make sure you really pack the falafel tight into the cookie scooper, otherwise they will likely fall apart.
  • If you don’t have chickpea flour you can use all purpose flour as well.
  • If you don’t have Lebneh you can use whole fat plain greek yogurt.
  • If you’re planning ahead, you can make this platter a little bit at a time over 2-3 days.
    • Two days ahead: Soak chickpeas, make babaganoush.
    • One day ahead: Boil and cool chickpeas, make hummus and falafel mix.
    • Day of: Make Lebneh and foul, shape and bake falafel.

Recipes

Ingredients

For the Falafel

  • 2 C Chickpeas, soaked and boiled, avoid using canned.
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 Bunch Cilantro, large stems removed
  • 1/8 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley, large stems removed
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Small Jalapeño or Serrano, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Chickpea Flour, you can use All Purpose if gluten is not a concern
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 C Water

For the Babaganoush

  • 1 Large Eggplant
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Plaine Greek Yogurt, optional
  • Olive Oil, Chopped Parsely and Paprika optional for topping

For the Hummus

  • 1 C Chickpeas, soaked and boiled until soft
  • 2 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Lemon Juice to taste
  • 1/4 C Water

For the Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1/2 C Chickpeas, soaked and boiled
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt to taste

For the Lebneh

  • 1 Green Onion, thinly sliced, stopping at the white part of the onion
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 Bunch Cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 C Lebneh
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt to taste

For the Ful

  • 1 (15 oz) Can of Fava Beans, or 1 C Soaked and Boiled Fava beans
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Small Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 C Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • Sesame Oil, feta chopped or roasted tomatoes, for serving

For Serving

  • Pita Chips
  • Pita Bread

Directions

  1. Start by soaking all 3 1/2 C chickpeas in cold water overnight, note that they will just about double in size, so you really only need to soak 1 3/4 C of raw chickpeas. If you’re using canned, just be sure to drain and rinse.
  2. Once soaked, pour the chickpeas into a large pot and cover with cold water and a bit of salt, bring to a boil and cook until chickpeas are soft all the way through, about 30-40 minutes. Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.
  3. While the chickpeas are cooling, start the Babaghanoush.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  5. Cut the top and bottom of the eggplant off, peel and cut it in half. Place each half on a piece of tinfoil and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap the foil around the eggplant and bake until soft, 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove the eggplant from the foil and place into the bowl of a foodprocessor, add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt and yogurt, purée until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Once the chickpeas are cool, start the roasted chickpeas by mixing in a medium bowl, 1/2 C Chickpeas, live oil, lemon juice, paprika and salt. Place on a parchment lined sheet tray and bake at 400°F 25-30 minutes, or until crispy.
  8. In the meantime, start the falafel.
  9. In a food processor, combine 2 C cooked chickpeas, garlic, onion, cilantro, parsley, jalapeño, chickpea flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly drizzle in water just until the mixture can be pressed into a ball.
  10. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  11. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425°F.
  12. Using a cookie scoop, shape falafel mix into balls, be sure to firmly pack and press the cookie scoop, otherwise they’ll fall apart.
  13. Place the scoops onto a parchment lined sheet tray sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  14. Bake 15 minutes, then spray the tops of the falafel and flip them over, continue cooking another 10-15 minutes. Remove and serve hot.
  15. To make the hummus, combine chickpeas, tahini, EVOO, cumin, salt garlic and lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in water until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached.
  16. To make the Lebneh, in a small sauce pan, combine EVOO, green onion, red pepper flakes, garlic, and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  17. Mix the lebneh with lemon juice and season with salt, spread the lebneh onto a plate and drizzle the oil mixture on top. Serve with Pita Chips.
  18. To make the Ful, in a medium sauce pan, sauté onion and garlic in sesame oil.
  19. Once aromatic, add fava beans and chicken stock, bring to a boil.
  20. Smash the fava beans and serve warm topped with sesame oil, tomato and feta cheese.
  21. Prepare the platter by placing scoops of each dip in different areas with pita bread or chips inbetween, place the falafel in the middle. Garnish with parsley, olive oil, roasted or raw vegetables, feta cheese, etc. as desired.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this recipe! If you tried it out let me know in the comments. For more recipes check out my homepage and follow along on Instagram. Don’t forget to like, follow, comment and share. Thanks for reading! 

Today’s call to action is to research the Sudanese Uprising and amplify Sudanese voices by sharing that information with your friends and family or on social media.

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