Hazelnut falafel & tahini-whipped creme fraiche

Hazelnut falafel & tahini-whipped creme fraiche

New Feast
Alan Benson

When it comes to falafel, every Middle Eastern country has its own very strong opinion. Egyptians claim them as their own and favour broad beans as the primary ingredient, while Israelies and Palestinians use only chickpeas. The Lebanese version (which is Greg’s birthright) combines the two, with lots of chopped coriander and parsley for a vibrant green colour. The hazelnuts are completely unorthodox by anyone’s standard, but they do add a lovely nutty flavour and an extra crunch!


Quantity Ingredient
150g dried, skinless broad beans, soaked overnight
150g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh coriander leaves and stalks
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, shredded
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
60g hazelnuts, roasted, peeled and roughly crushed
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Tahini–whipped creme fraiche

Quantity Ingredient
180ml creme fraiche
60ml tahini, well stirred
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, crushed with 1 teaspoon sea salt
extra sea salt for seasoning


  1. To make the sauce, combine the creme fraiche, tahini, lemon juice and garlic paste in a mixing bowl. Thin with a little water, if necessary – the sauce should have the consistency of runny honey. Taste and adjust the flavours with more salt or lemon juice. What you are aiming for is a balance of the sharp creme fraiche and lemon juice with nutty tahini and garlic. This sauce can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
  2. Drain the broad beans and chickpeas and rinse them well. Tip onto a clean tea towel and pat them dry.
  3. Put them into the bowl of a food processor and add the salt. Whiz to the consistency of coarse, sticky breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, chilli, herbs and spices and whiz to a bright green paste. Take care not to over-process the mixture; it should be the consistency of fine crumbs, not a smooth paste. Chill for at least 30 minutes before frying.
  5. When ready to cook, pour vegetable oil into a deep-fryer or heavybased saucepan to a depth of around 8 cm and heat to 180°C.
  6. While the oil is heating, add the crushed hazelnuts and bicarbonate of soda to the falafel mixture. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry a teaspoon of the mixture to check the balance of seasoning. Adjust it to your liking, if need be.
  7. Shape the mixture into little puck-shaped patties. Fry the falafel, a few at a time, for 6–7 minutes, or until they turn a deep golden brown. Turn them around in the oil to ensure they colour evenly all over. Drain them on kitchen paper and serve piping hot. Eat them with tahini-creme fraiche sauce for dipping, or stuff them into pita, with plenty of salad, a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of sauce.


  • If you don’t have a candy thermometer, the oil will have reached the correct temperature when it is shimmering, and when a cube of bread sizzles slowly to the surface and turns a pale golden brown in 30–40 seconds.
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