I think I may soon regret issuing pantry challenges to friends. One thing in common with friends I know who cook regularly is that our pantries are stuffed full of odd ingredients that have been accumulated over time. I regularly receive food gifts that include the exotic, and my spice cupboard overfloweth. I’ve been on a quest to try to use up these out of the way ingredients however, and have been sending out “pantry challenges” to a couple of friends. The first one was an “olive oil challenge”; to use olive oil in an unusual way. A few of us did make cakes with olive oil and it was quite enlightening to learn how to use it – I now have a lot more confidence to bake with it, which is kind of handy when you run out of butter.
The second challenge was a “spice challenge” which included using at least 2 spices that you hardly use in your pantry. Friend T came up with meatballs and I decided to go middle eastern and make falafel. I had a lot of ras el hanout, harissa, baharat and even zhoug that had been gifted to me that I didn’t even know how to use. I always felt that middle eastern food would be hard to master because of my lack of exposure to the cuisine. But falafel is a universal favourite and is a very well travelled dish.
The problem about falafel in my low carb lifestyle is that the base ingredient is chickpea, which is relatively high in carb content. It has 27 carbs per 100 g, pretty similar to white rice. So I turned to edamame beans, which are actually lower in carb count at 10g carbs per 100g. Living in Asia, it is not difficult at all to find edamame beans. Edamame beans are actually the immature soy beans typically cooked in the pods as a Japanese side dish. It is often found in the frozen vegetable section of most supermarkets, and can also be found shelled for convenience. There is usually a bag at hand in my home because we love throwing the beans into our cauliflower fried rice as a substitute for green peas.
So the falafels were made with edamame beans instead of chickpeas and my spice challenge was met by including ras el hanout (a North African or Moroccan spice blend that is often used in savory dishes) in the falafel mix. And it was easy to add the harissa paste (a kind of hot pepper paste) into the yogurt dressing. So I finally got through my maiden attempt to use middle eastern spices in this spice challenge. It was a truly tasty challenge (what’s not to like about fried spicy food) and I would definitely make this again even in my very Asian kitchen. The problem is that after getting through this spice challenge, friend E just gave me some Yemeni spices to play around with. I may never get out of this spice challenge…
Low Carb Edamame Falafel
- 400g boiled and shelled Edamame beans
- 2 tbsp almond flour
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium onion, finely minced
- 1/4 cup coriander, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp ras el hanout
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
- Preheat the oven to 180 deg C
- In a food processor, chop the edamame beans and chop finely.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mix in the almond flour, garlic, onions, chopped coriander, salt, pepper, ras el hanout and cumin powder and mix well.
- Beat an egg and mix with the bean mixture. Using your hands, form golf ball sized falafel balls and put on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- With a brush, gently coat the balls with olive oil.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Heat up vegetable oil in a wok. The oil should be at least 1.5 cm deep.
- Carefully place 1/2 of the falafel balls into the hot oil, turning the balls ever 10-15 seconds to evenly brown them. This should take just about 1-2 minutes to brown the balls.
- Drain the falafel on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen towels. Set aside.
- Prepare the yogurt dip and mix the yogurt, harissa (amount can be regulated for the level of spiciness desired), lemon juice, garlic and mint leaves. Serve the falafel with the yogurt dressing with salad greens or cucumber.