Blackeyed Pea Falafels, why not?
I’ve probably eaten more falafel wraps this year than I have any other period in my life and subconsciously it’s probably tied to this year’s election somehow. Follow me here; inauguration day I had an eye appointment. My Doctor’s office is located near a “Middle Eastern” restaurant, one in which I parked in front of the day of my appointment. I thought nothing of the proximity of the restaurant before that day. After a quick Doctor’s visit I walked back to my car and noticed a note on my windshield. My initial thought was that someone had bumped my car door, only to learn after reading the note some racist person felt compelled to write me a nasty note. My complexion allowed me to be mistaken for a person of Arab descent, but the note read – “Enjoy your falafel you f*^&ing terrorist!That’s why I voted for Trump.”
It’s not the first time my complexion created some confusion regarding my ethnicity, but outside of the days and months post 9/11, this was one of the few times it worked against. My Arab brothers in Morocco and Turkey greeted me with love in their native tongue. After reading the note, I initially drove around the neighborhood wishfully thinking I’d find the jerk and confront them. But eventually my immediate anger dissipated into recognition and acceptance that this would be the new normal. Not that racism was a new experience for me or others, but now it would be in our face, overtly demonstrated by those emboldened by a president who plays to the fears of racists.
However, I guess in some way, my increased falafel consumption was me flicking my middle finger at the proverbial racists and keeping it moving in terms of progressing onward and upward in this crazy world despite the environment. Even better, I learned this year that my pescatarian daughter loved falafel sandwiches which gave me more incentive to make my own version. I decided to go back to the Motherland to get some Zulu love in the form of her native beans, the blackeyed pea in place of the traditional chickpeas. Blackeyed peas grow wild in Africa, are great at absorbing flavors of other ingredients, and generally make a good twist on traditional falafel recipes. Both chickpeas and blackeyed peas have a nutty flavor, but blackeyed peas have a more earthy and savory flavor profile. The absorbitive qualities make it a good pairing with spices and mix of herbs.
Falafel is typically served with a tahini sauce. Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds, similar in texture to a thin peanut butter and usually made thinner with the addition of water and/or lemon juice. I wanted a bit of smokiness so added some adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles plus soe lime juice to get the desired consistency. I wanted more of a mayonnaise type consistency for what is essentially my falafal dip.
Blackeyed peas have a lot of nutritional benefits. In addition to being low in fat and calories as well as high in iron, they are a good source potassium which helps to lower risk of heart disease. Also for non-meat eaters they are a good alternative source of protein.
Dope beats, fresh eats. Enjoy!
Vegan Blackeyed Pea Falafel Cakes
- 2 cups dried black-eyed peas soaked overnight
- 1/2 white onions minced
- 1 tbsp garlic chopped
- 1 cup fresh herb mix chives, basil, parsley, thyme
- 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp flour
- peanut or canola oil for frying
For Tahini Sauce
- 2 tbsp tahini paste
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- 1 tbsp chili paste or hot sauce of choice
- Juice from 1/2 small lime
Combine the blackeyed peas, onion, garlic, and herbs in a food processor and puree. Don't worry if mixture never reaches fully smooth consistency.
Transfer to a bowl and mix in baking powder and flour. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll black-eyed pea into medium sized oblong balls and then flatten to desired shape.
Heat oil in large skilet and fry the falafals for about 3 minutes per side.
Remove from oil and let cool and drain on cooling rack or paper towel lined pan.
Make Tahini Sauce
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Adjust consistency with water as needed.