Falafel Cakes with Rice Salad and Sumac Radishes

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This fun twist on a classic Middle Eastern dish happened by accident. These vegan Falafel Cakes cook up a bit faster than traditional balls and have more surface area with that satisfying crunch of crust. They pair nicely with the cool, spicy rice salad and sumac seasoned radishes for a complete meal. These Falafel Cakes with Rice Salad and Sumac Radishes are simple and satisfying.

History of Falafel

When I think of Middle Eastern food, I think of falafel. The delicious deep fried ball of chickpeas are a trademark food of Israel. But surprisingly, falafel did not originate in Israel. It actually came from Egypt originally.

It began with the Christian Copts of Egypt, who’s religious practices included abstaining from eating meat during certain holidays. They created an alternative called ta’amiya, which was made out of fava beans. Later, Jewish pioneers made their own version of these tasty fritters using chickpeas. These are what we know today as Israeli falafel.

Falafel became popular in the 1950s when the Yemeni Jews began serving falafel balls in pitas. Because it is satisfying, easy, and relatively inexpensive to make, falafel became a common street food in the Middle East. Today, Israeli falafel is typically served in a pita with hummus and tahini dip and salad items of your choice.

Seasonings

Sumac

Sumac is a household staple spice in Middle Eastern countries, much like salt and pepper in the United States. Actually a member of the cashew family, sumac berries lend a tart, acidic taste to many dishes. Interestingly, he sour lemony flavor actually gave rise to the tradition of pink lemonade in America.

Zhoug Seasoning

Zhoug is a fragrant paste of hot peppers, cilantro, parsley, garlic and warm Middle Eastern spices. It resembles pesto, but it packs quite a bit more heat and flavor. Although zhoug originated in Yemen, it’s famous for being a much-loved condiment in Israeli street food. Zhoug works well to season roasted vegetables (especially root veggies). It also adds a bit of punch to many dressings & vinaigrettes.


Love cooking ethnic food like these Falafel Cakes with Rice Salad? Check out Korean Tofu Bowls!

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Falafel Cakes with Kabbouleh Salad and Sumac Radishes

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield:2-3 servings

Ingredients

For the Rice Salad

1 – 14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup brown rice

salt, to taste

4 oz. curly kale, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped

1 lemon, zested and halved

1/4 cup golden raisins

For the Falafel Cakes

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1/2 oz fresh parsley, leaves removed from stems

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon zhoug seasoning

1/2 cup chickpea flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

For the Radishes

4 radishes, quartered

1/2 teaspoon ground sumac

Garnish

1/4 cup vegan yogurt

Instructions

For the Rice Salad

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Reserve 1 cup chickpeas, and add the remainder to a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and roast in the oven until crispy.
  3. Add the brown rice to a medium saucepan and add 1 1/4 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the rice is tender, 30-35 minutes.
  4. To a large bowl, add chopped kale, lemon zest, all but 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice, golden raisins, and salt to a large bowl. Toss with cooked brown rice. Finally, stir in roasted chickpeas.

For the Falafel Cakes

  1. To a food processor, add onion, parsley, garlic, zhoug seasoning, reserved chickpeas, chickpea flour, and 1 tablespoon of water. Blend until a dough forms, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed.
  2. Form the dough into six 1-inch thick cakes. Place a large skillet on medium high heat and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once oil is glistening, add the cakes and cook each side until well browned. Transfer to a wire rack to drain any excess oil.

For the Radishes

  1. Add the radishes to a small bowl and add the sumac seasoning, a pinch of salt, and reserved 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Toss to combine.

Assemble the Dish

  1. Divide the rice salad between plates and top with falafel, radishes, and drizzle with yogurt.

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