Oven Baked Felafel

Felafel is one of the Middle East’s most popular vegetarian dishes, suitable for breakfast, lunch or supper. It’s also one of my favourite finger foods. On a recent trip to Athens, Greece, I came across a small cafe on a high street that was selling only felafel. The queue was always miles long, so I was curious about their success. Having tasted their felafel, I decided I could do far better. I experimented with a healthier version cooked in the oven, rather than deep fried, and I am very happy to share my recipe with you.

INGREDIENTS

(For best results, if you can find dry white beans soak them overnight in cold water, drain then roughly grind)

1 tin chickpeas 240g

1 garlic clove (chopped)

3 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tbs lemon zest

5 tbs freshly chopped parsley and mint

1 tbs fresh chilli (chopped)

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Heat the oven 175*. Drain the water from the chickpeas. In a food processor, blend them coarsely (making sure not to form a paste). Transfer to a bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients except for the oil. Check the seasoning. Form into small balls or any shape you like. Heat the olive oil in a l0w flame and seal the felafel balls until just brown. Transfer to an ovenproof tray and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with tahini paste.

Tahini paste

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 tsp cumin powder

2 tbs finely chopped parsley

salt to taste

Mix the ingredients together, then check the seasoning.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Tortilla Bake with Chicken

This is my own idea and recipe, which I first made for a lunch party for friends. I used chicken and creamy leeks, which came out really nicely, but you can do it as a pure vegetarian dish by substituting tempeh or just vegetables instead of the chicken. Or try seafood (just make sure not to overcook it).


INGREDIENTS 

8 sesame tortillas (or plain tortillas)

400g skinless boneless chicken (marinated with 1/2 lemon, 1 tbs crushed chilli, 1 tbs soya sauce, 2 tbs thyme, salt and pepper in 2 tbs olive oil)

250g leeks (sliced, washed and drained well)

I tin chopped tomato

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tbs sugar

50g sour cream

100g grated cheddar cheese

3 tbs chopped parsley

METHOD 

Heat the oil in a pan, add garlic and fry until golden brown. Then add onion and sauté until softened. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and sugar and cook on a low heat. When it starts simmering and oil appears on the top, add the salt and pepper until you are happy with the seasoning then remove from the heat.

Heat the oven 170*. Cook the chicken and allow to cool. Slice the cooked chicken roughly and mix with the sliced leeks. Roll the mixture up into the tortillas and arrange in an ovenproof dish, then pour over the tomato mixture and top with cheese.  Cook for 25 minutes, when the cheese melts and turns golden on top. Remove from the oven, add sour cream and parsley to finish.

Serve with a mix leaf salad.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Stuffed Peppers

This summer I have decided to introduce some of my recipes based on well-known international dishes from my travelling experience, and my working experience as a chef in a London five-star hotel kitchen. I start with a pure vegetarian dish, stuffed peppers.

Stuffed Peppers

INGREDIENTS

700g mixed peppers

500g cooked rice

250g grated cheddar cheese

300g mixed vegetables (mushrooms/spring onions/carrot)

100g packet of sage and onion stuffing mixture

50g chopped parsley

3tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

METHOD

In a pan heat the oil, add chopped mushrooms, spring onions and grated carrots and cook for about 10 minutes. In a bowl mix together the rice, parsley, sage and onion mix, cooked vegetables and half of the cheese. Check the seasoning. Wash the peppers and carefully slice the lid off (you can chop this and use it in the recipe), and de-seed. Fill up the peppers with the rice mixture, and arrange on a baking tray or dish. Sprinkle with the leftover cheese and bake in a hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.