I don’t exactly know how I came to have about a dozen sweet potatoes in my pantry. I seem to remember buying a few for a casserole that I never got around to making, but I’m not quite sure how the others got there. My secret suspicion is that while behind closed doors, they’re multiplying like little vegetable bunnies. But whatever the explanation, I’ve had a surplus of sweet potatoes on my hands, so lately I’ve been slipping them into unconventional dishes, like this one.
These brilliantly colored falafel are a tasty treat, but I’m not going to lie to you: If you’re expecting the crispy, crunchy deep-fried delicacy, then you’ll be disappointed. I almost didn’t call them “falafel” because of that, but since I served them and ate them like falafel, falafel they shall be called. If you prefer, think of them as savory, lightly spiced (or highly spiced, if you’re so inclined) sweet potato croquettes that taste great stuffed into pita bread or wraps, topped with yogurt-tahini dressing.
I made these in three different sizes: small patties, double-sized patties, and little balls. The small patties were so much better than the rest that I’m going to insist that you make them that way; the larger patties and balls are too dense inside and lack the crunchiness of the small patties. They’re easy to make uniform in size and shape if you use a cookie dough scoop to form them and then flatten them with your fingers or a spatula. (The scoop I use holds just over a tablespoon.) Two of these small patties are just the right amount of filling for an average sized pita half. And don’t forget to serve them with the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce; though it’s higher in fat, it really complements the falafel–though it’s so delicious that it would improve just about anything!
- 1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 2 tbsp hot water
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 18 ounces, total)
- 2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/8 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup chickpea flour or besan
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- sesame seeds (optional)
- Mix the flax seeds with two tablespoons hot water and set aside to thicken.
- Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a fork and place on paper towels in microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, turn over, and then cook for another 2 minutes. Check for tenderness, and if not cooked all the way through, cook in increments of 30 seconds until tender. Set aside to cool until easy to handle; peel and place in a large bowl.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Mash sweet potatoes well with a masher or a fork. Add the flax mixture, seasonings (including parsley), and lemon juice and stir well. Mix the chickpea flour with the baking powder and add it a little at a time to the sweet potato mixture. Stir until well-combined. Batter should be stiff; if not, add chickpea flour a tablespoon at a time until batter is thick. (If the batter is too stiff to blend in all the flour, add water a tablespoon at a time.)
- Oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Use a cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon to make about 20-22 little mounds of dough on the baking sheet (dipping the scoop in water every now and then will help prevent the dough from sticking to it). Flatten the balls to about 1/2-inch thick and 1 1/2-inches wide. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bottoms are medium brown. Serve hot with yogurt-tahini sauce. These keep well and can be reheated briefly in the microwave.
- 1/2 cup soy yogurt or other plain non-dairy yogurt
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch red pepper
- 4 teaspoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons water
- Mix all ingredients well in a small bowl. Add additional seasonings to taste.