I have been posting a few different bread recipes recently, and I think it’s because I am craving a variety. If we want anything other than white rolls or plain sliced bread here the only option is to make it ourselves, there simply is no variety what so ever. Thinking of all the foods I am missing so much, (including big field mushrooms, fresh olives, crusty brown bread, baby leaf salads, fresh tofu, among other things) makes me realise how privileged I am to come from UK where eating like this is even a possibility.
I have been making a conscious effort to concentrate on creating interesting recipes from the easy and cheap local ingredients available. Going back to the vegan basics of beans, lentils and veggies. I think its very important that vegan food should be accessible to everyone, not just the priviledged and rich who can live everyday on 100% raw, specialist superfoods diets, and shopping exclusively at Wholefoods, Waitrose or expensive health food shops etc. This is not an option for the majority of people and it seems to be creating a class divide within veganism and plant based eating. If that was my introduction to veganism I would view it as very unattainable and impossible to maintain. I also think it loses focus on why I chose to be vegan in the first place. It was never to talk about this new plant based diet fad and boast about ‘clean eating’.
Being vegan does not simply mean, I only eat plants. To me, someone that is vegan is a person who has made a conscious decision not to support the cruelty of animal agricultural business. Choosing only to eat vegan is a protest, declaring that you will do everything in your power to stand against such cruelty. So much is decided in this world by money and by eating vegan every day you can vote with your money. If you buy the tofu instead of the steak you are actively refusing the be a part of that abuse system. You can go further by using your money to buy local, ethical, cruelty free and sustainable products and support the small (and now often large) businesses trying to do things a better way. This is something that stays with me every day and is an important thing never to forget. It’s not just about the food. It’s about why.
Along with that stance I accidently fell in love with food, as many a vegan before me has. I absolutely love to celebrate the food, I love trying new things and sharing new recipes. I love superfoods and raw food, but I also eat A LOT of lentils and rice.
Veganism is not a diet. It should never be labelled as such because a diet will fail, people will fall out of it, say it was too hard, they might lose a bit of weight and then go back to eating non vegan once they have reached their ‘goal’.
There is the view that in the big picture by ‘selling’ veganism this way it is reaching the mainstream, it’s finding it’s way into so many more people’s lives than before. I hear so many stories of celebrity vegans and transformation stories. To reach more people is undeniably amazing, but along side this I hear just as much about ex-vegans, 30 day vegan detoxs and the many many people who had to “listen to their bodies and eat meat or dairy again” due to not being able to maintain their super strict ‘100% clean eating, raw, oil free, and everything else free’ plant based diets. These stories never take into account the real meaning of veganism, they missed the point. But it’s all sold under the same package diet.
Therefore I just don’t believe the words diet and vegan belong together at all, not in that sense. Diets just seem too soulless.
So here is my recipe for homemade spinach falafel, using ingredients that are always available here of the coast of West Africa, along with homemade pitta breads and tahini dressing.
Note: After some feedback I just wanted to add… make sure you test a falafel
ball first in the oil. If it disintegrates in the oil it means the oil might not be hot enough yet, heat it up a bit more and try again. If it still doesn’t work it just means the falafel mixture is a bit too dry, add a few more tablespoons of breadcrumbs or flour and that should do the trick! (02/05/2015)
- 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup spinach, packed
- 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
- Place the chickpeas, onion, garlic, spinach and parsley in a food processor and pulse until pasty and combined (or use a stick blender if you don’t have a food processor like me)
- Mix the cumin, coriander, salt, flour, baking powder and soda in a large bowl then add the mushed up chickpea and spinach mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon, making sure there are no dry patches left
- Stir in the breadcrumbs. If the mixture seems too wet add up to 2 more tablespoons of breadcrumbs and mix well. Use the falafel mixture immediately.
- To make the falafel, heat 3 inches of oil in a pan. Take a walnut sized lump of the falafel mixture, and using two spoons shape into balls and gently drop into the hot oil. Cook each falafel for about 5 minutes until browned. Keep going until all the falafel mixture is used up
- Enjoy inside a salad filled pitta bread topped with tahini dressing and chilli sauce
Makes approximate 20 falafel
Note: for gluten free falafel just replace flour and bread crumbs with gluten free versions
- 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
- 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 Tbsp instant dried yeast
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- In a large bowl mix the flours, instant yeast and salt, then drizzle in the olive oil
- Add 1 cup of warm water and start to mix and knead into a dough, adding a little more water as needed. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until you have a very soft but not sticky dough
- Place back into a lighly oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise for 1 1/2 hours
- Divide dough into 6 and roll into smooth balls. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven
- The key to making pitta bread is a very hot oven, so make sure your oven heats to 250°c
- Roll the dough balls out to 1/4 inch thick ovals, then place on a lightly floured baking sheet. (I cook just two at a time)
- Place baking sheet contain two of the dough ovals in oven and bake for 4-5 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 2 minutes until browned
- They should have puffed up and will be full of steam so be careful as you set them aside to cool. Continue to bake the rest of the dough ovals the same until you have pittas
Makes 6 pitta bread
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp pink himalayan salt
Blend everything together until smooth and creamy