So the chickpea craze continues over at my kitchen. What can I say, they are so versatile! You see it all started from this incredible ceramic bowl brimming with these perfectly round, yellow falafel that stood out from the Bon Appetit site and I just had to try making them. These are my Baked Saffron Falafel with Orange Tahini Sauce!
I love Middle Eastern food and falafel was introduced to me many years ago on a college campus. What I love about these are they are baked, not deep fried.
Now I have to be honest here, the first time I made these I followed their recipe to the letter for ingredients and amounts, but mine was way too wet. I needed to add another 2 cups more of chickpeas just so I could form these lovely little nuggets into balls. Maybe it was the size of my onion? I don’t know exactly, but mine needed a little more filler so more chickpeas and buckwheat flour went in the mix.
These came out better than I expected. Sometimes these amazing pictures of delicious foods don’t quite live up to the photograph. You ever find that? These had the wonderful nutty flavor from the sunflower seed, the floral, exotic flavor from the saffron and the insides? Let me tell you they were so soft, with a fantastic, almost al denté exterior crunch that delivered on many levels. I was a happy.
What really made these interesting was that the tahini sauce was nuanced with the orange citrus juice. I omitted the garlic as I ended up bumping that up a bit in the mix itself as was the spice. I added red pepper flakes and lemon zest the second time I made these and BAM, here is my adaption.
I served these with some of my Grilled Lamb and Beef Koobideh Kebabs since saffron was in play this evening for a perfect meal.
Baked Saffron Falafel with Orange Tahini Sauce
- 3/4 cup roasted/salted sunflower seeds
- 4 cups cooked or canned chickpeas rinsed, drained
- 1 small onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp buckwheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads
- 1/4 cup tahini sesame seed paste
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- pinch kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Pulse sunflower seeds in a food processor for about 30 seconds. Add onion and pulse 1 minute longer. Add chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, buckwheat flour, baking powder, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and pulse, occasionally scraping down sides of work bowl, until mixture is slightly coarse and well combined. Add the saffron threads and pulse once or twice to just mix through, but not pulverize.
- With a small scoop make 24 small round falafels and place on a baking sheet with a parchment paper, a Silpat or silicone baking mat.
- Bake until falafels are evenly golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, depending on oven.
- Whisk together the tahini, orange juice, and kosher salt in a bowl until creamy dressing forms. Set aside.
- Allow falafel to come to room temperature and serve with dipping sauce or drizzle over top.
Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Baked Falafel.