Eat Cheap Episode 2 – Falafel Stuffed Pita with Veggies and Tahini Yoghurt Dip

Welcome to the second episode in the “Eat Cheap”-series, where we share recipes for meals below 8 EUR large enough to feed the whole family! If you missed the first episode you can find it here. Today’s recipe is a crisp falafel stuffed inside a pita pocket alongside some fresh vegies and topped with an aromatic tahini yoghurt sauce. Using dried beans and peas is a super inexpensive way of cooking. The falafel only cost you 2-3 EUR to put together and if you make the pita bread yourself (click here to check out the recipe) this is a truly cheap meal. The rest of the money can be spent on vegetables and a tasty sauce.

Falafel are not only super yummy it’s also a great dish since almost everyone can enjoy it. Vegetarians, vegans, egg-, gluten and milk allergists; yes, it’s a meal suited for most of us. If you choose to cook the complete dish you will include both milk and gluten (in the dip and the bread), but you can easily swap the Greek style yoghurt for coconut yoghurt or serve it with humus instead. The bread can be replaced by rice or quinoa for a gluten free option. And I promise – regardless of whether you serve it in mine or your own way it’s still going to cost you less than 8 EUR.

This time the recipe is a bit trickier than the previous one, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s complicated. It’s simply perfect for the weekend! And even though there might be someone out there who finds it difficult to make I can guarantee that it’s worth it! The best part is that you just place all the accessories on the table and everyone assembles their own food on the plate or in the pita pocket. This is truly the type of food that gathers family and friends together.

I didn’t know how delicious falafel was until I tried it out about a year ago. Well, I have had falafel once before but that was a non-pleasant surprise. I guess I was about six and I and my family were on vacation in Israel. We were on some sort of guided tour to swim in the Dead Sea, seeing the Wailing Wall and to have the mandatory local lunch, which is almost always included in these kinds of excursions. So we stepped into the diner, got a pita bread each and started to fill them up with the various ingredients from the table. I filled mine up with what I assumed were meatballs. I didn’t like salad at the time and I suppose that I skipped the sauce as well. “Meatballs, yummy”! – I thought. But as soon as I bite into the filled bread I was disappointed. It didn’t taste like Swedish meatballs whatsoever! The whole experience was just weird – the crisp, crumbly but yet moist falafels with a, for me, very strange seasoning, the bread which was far too dry without the sauce, and all the strange people fiddling in my blond hair. I promise that they found me just as exotic as I found them =P

Luckily I grew up to have a completely different view of food and people from other cultures. I mean, one of the best things is to travel around the world and experience new cultures and foods. Sadly it’s quite expensive, so it doesn’t happen as often as I would wish for but when we do travel it’s wonderful.

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Falafel with Tahini Yoghurt Dip – 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

Falafel
250 g dried chickpeas
1 yellow onion
4 garlic cloves
15 g parsley
15 g coriander
2 ½ tsp salt
1 tsk cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
30 g gram flour (aka chickpea flour)
25 g lemon juice (½)
1 tsp tahini

Neutral oil

Tahini dip
50 g tahini
25 g neutral oil
350 g Greek style yoghurt
1 garlic clove
½ red chili pepper
12 g runny honey
Salt

To serve
Pita bread/rice or other grains
Salad
Tomatoes
Cucumber
Red onion

Method:

Falafel. Rinse the chickpeas and cover them with a lot of cold water (the water level should be a few centimeters above the peas). Let them soak for 12-24 hours. Drain the peas of and put them in a food processor. Roughly chop the onion, garlic and herbs and add to the mixer together with the rest of the ingredients. Use the pulse function on your mixer and pulse until small crumbs are formed. You don’t want to mix the ingredients too fine because then it will just stick on your fingers when forming into falafels. You also don’t want your chickpea chunks to be too big. Have the size of the breadcrumbs used for the sponge cake tin as a benchmark.

For a mix that is easier to form into balls I recommend you to rest it in the fridge for about an hour. I was hungry and didn’t rest mine but it worked fine anyway, it was just a bit stickier. Roll the mixture into balls or patties. About a tablespoon of mixture per falafel is a good amount. Add a generous glug of neutral oil into a pan and warm to medium high heat. Shallow fry (when about half the item is covered in oil, compared to deep frying when the whole item is concealed) the falafels for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the falafels a few times during the cooking and let them then drain on a paper towel.

Tahini dip. Mix tahini and oil until a smooth paste is formed. Finley chop the chili and garlic and add that together with the yoghurt and honey to the tahini mix. Stir and add salt to taste.

To serve. Slice or cut the vegetables and place into separate bowls. Warm the bread in the oven or cook the rice/grains. Place everything on the table and serve it family style.

Eat Cheap Episode 3 - Tortellini, Spinach and Bacon Gratin
Eat Cheap Episode 1 - Asian Style Carrot Soup