Falafel is a mainstay in many a vegan’s weekly menu plan. A lunchtime fallback and perennial ‘we don’t know what else to serve you’ fave, it’s become something of an unofficial running joke in vegan circles. I too was becoming a wee bit tired of consuming yet another falafel-and-salad-stuffed pitta and honestly didn’t believe ‘poaching’ them would make that much difference. Or so I thought.
Letting these chickpea-filled beauties steam until fluffy and virtually melt-in-the-mouth delicious in a sauce so good you’ll be licking the pan was an absolute revelation. In fact, my love affair with these wondrous little veg-balls has officially been reignited – I’ll never look at a falafel the same way again.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small aubergine, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 scant teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon tomato purée
200g passata (sieved tomatoes)
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes or 1 red chilli, chopped
pinch of sugar
12 shop-bought falafel
sea salt flakes and black pepper
2 tablespoons light tahini
½ tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon agave nectar
juice of ½ lemon
1–2 tablespoons water
pinch of fine sea salt flakes
8–10 taco-sized tortillas or flatbreads
handful of pomegranate seeds
handful of tarragon, torn
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion to the pan, season and sweat for 2–3 minutes until it begins to soften.
2. Add the aubergine and stir to combine. Sauté for 2–3 minutes, then add the garlic, sprinkle over the smoked paprika and cinnamon and stir to coat. Cover and cook for another 2–3 minutes, or until the aubergine has started to soften.
3. Add the tomato purée, passata and chopped tomatoes to the pan. Fill the tomato can with water and add it to the sauce together with the chilli and sugar. Season generously and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is rich and bubbling.
4. Place the falafel in the pan, making sure not to cover them with the sauce – they should be peeking out! Cover and simmer gently for a further 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce by whisking the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and glossy.
6. Griddle or toast the tortillas and keep warm under a clean tea towel.
7. To serve, drizzle the tahini sauce over the shakshuka and garnish with the pomegranate seeds and tarragon. Put the pan in the centre of the table along with the tortillas and let everyone help themselves.
Recipe from Cook Share Eat Vegan: Delicious plant-based recipes for Everyone by Áine Carlin, published by Mitchell Beazley, RRP £20