Despite controversy, there seems to be reasonable certainty that falafel may well have originated in Egypt, and were made using Fava Beans. Fava Beans are a type of Broad Bean, and are grown in many countries.
In fact, I’ve just sown some at my allotment, as certain varieties over-winter happily, and beat the dreaded blackfly that make an appearance in June. ( But that’s another story).
Another random fact: according to Wikipedia: the word falafel originates from “The word Falāfil (Arabic: فلافل), which is the plural of Filfil (فلفل), meaning “pepper”.
Below is my recipe for Broad Bean Patties, with lots of delicious ingredients and plenty of coarse ground black pepper. They don’t need veganising, as they always have been, and always will be: vegan.
I love a mezze; so many different flavours and tastes to conjure with so I decided to accompany the patties with my very own homemade pitta bread (which puts all shop-bought pitta in the shade, believe me), a cucumber salad in a minted tahini yogurt dressing, finely chopped spinach, and sharp cucumber pickles.
A feast of greenness.
Unlike some versions of Fava Falafel, I have used frozen baby broad beans, primarily for convenience.
BROAD BEAN PATTIES AND A SIMPLE GREEN MEZZE
cucumber salad in a minted non-dairy yogurt+ tahini dressing
It’s been mild this November, and my collection of perennial herbs on the allotment is still looking fresh.
freshly picked herbs
freshly picked herbs
I picked a bunch of Rosemary, Sage, Winter Savoury, Oregano and Thyme.
Many herbs are very simple to grow successfully, even in pots. They are forgiving, and giving…they accept neglect and continue to provide beautiful, fragrant, interesting flavours throughout the seasons.
Pick up a healthy small plant at a garden centre, or a garden market stall, pot on into a slightly bigger pot, using compost and soil, or plant it straight in the ground, (remembering that not all herbs are hardy). If you keep herbs in a pot, water regularly, but sparingly. Some herbs are regarded as annuals but many will go on year after year. Growing herbs is an economical way of having herbs in your kitchen all year round.
Herbs have many medicinal powers as well as culinary uses.
Thyme can be infused as a tea (with a little agave) as a cough remedy.
Today I’m offering a recipe using fresh Oregano and Thyme, both herbs grow wild on the hills in Mediterranean countries. I remember driving through Greek Mountains with the heady fragrance of Thyme and Oregano coming in through the open windows with the warm breeze. Intoxicating.
Za’atar Flatbreads are an everyday bread eaten in many Middle Eastern Countries.
Here is my take on a Palestinian style flatbread…..
Za’atar flatbreads, served with hummus, vegan cheese and olives, rocket, radishes, tomatoes and spring onions, and a hot spicy lentil and tomato soup.
The difference between a bland tomato and great one is immense, much like the difference between a standard, sliced white bread and a crusty, aromatic sourdough.
I have something of an intolerance to certain forms of yeasted gluten breads. My insides get tied in knots. I noticed this (all over again) a few weeks ago when my brother came off his motorbike and I had to make a mad dash to the hospital he’d been taken to, without time to throw something together to eat to take with me. After a two hour drive, and several hours with him, I was so hungry I had to search something out at the hospital cafe. I ended up with a humus and salad sandwich (the only vegan option I could find – even the vegetable soup had milk in it) which, I regretted for days. It was the soggy wheat bread. There’s something about most wheat flours, and the type of baker’s yeast they use that just doesn’t agree with me. However, a sourdough spelt loaf suits me fine, so I thought I would share what I do.
I started investigating sourdough bread months ago, partly because I’m a – ‘if I can make it myself I will’ – sort of girl – and partly because I haven’t found a shop-bought bread that suits me.
To begin with, I came across a charming and amusing American blog about making a sourdough starter, which involved pineapples, hot-water bottles and quite a bit of fuss. It made me smile, but sadly, it didn’t work for me. After several days ado, it smelt sour and unappetising and looked thin and watery. I also read a lot of obscure articles about the mysteries and subtleties of making sourdough, which almost took me to the point of giving up the sourdough project altogether, and then I came across an article which went something like this:
‘In a large jar (that has a lid), mix together a few tbs. of 100% rye or spelt wholemeal flour, (I used spelt), with enough bottled water, (tap water can kill the natural yeasts), until it looks like a medium thick batter, and then put the un-lidded jar on top of the fridge at the back, where the heat produced by the fridge escapes. Leave it for about a week, checking it every now and then, adding a bit more flour and water when you need to, and then you’ll have a bubbling yeasty sweet-smelling sourdough starter. At this point, keep it fed with flour, and watered, pouring off any thin liquid that might form at the top. If the jar gets too full, throw away a bit of the starter and replenish with flour and water. Once it’s good and active you can put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.’
Now that, I thought to myself, is the kind of advice I can work with!
I did it, and it worked. That was in September 2014, and fourteen months later I still have a functioning sourdough. I gather that there are sourdough starters in San Francisco which are over a hundred years old. I guess a good sourdough starter becomes a family heirloom!
So. That, it turns out, was the difficult bit. And in the end, it wasn’t that difficult. I’m glad I didn’t give up, as I now turn out about six large spelt flour loaves a month, none of which are ever quite the same, but I usually manage a moist substantial loaf, which toasts well, isn’t crumbly and has a nice nutty flavour.
BTW. A sourdough starter will remain dormant, lidded, in the refrigerator for several weeks, although I haven’t tested quite how long it might remain viable.