Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for baked carrot falafel


My love for falafel knows no bounds, but my love for deep-frying does. So this week’s recipe is my offering for a baked falafel, as crunchy and crisp on the outside as the genuine article, and as soft and fluffy within. The key to all good falafel, I’ve learned, is to use dried chickpeas (tinned ones turn to mush), which means you’ll need to throw the chickpeas into a pot of water the day before. I usually soak them on a Friday or Saturday morning at breakfast time, so they can be turned into lunch the next day.

Baked carrot falafel with pickled onions
I have previously written recipes for pickled onions that have required an agonising wait for them to be ready. This is a new way (a brief boil in vinegar and salt) that means they’re ready almost instantly without much loss to crunch. You’ll need to start a day ahead, to soak the chickpeas.

Prep 10 min
Soak 24 hr
Cook 1 hr
Makes 20, to serve 4

300g dried chickpeas
1 carrot, roughly chopped (200g net weight)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1½ tsp coriander seeds
1½ tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp gram flour
Olive oil

For the pickled onions
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into very thin half-moons
4 tbsp white-wine vinegar
1½ tsp fine sea salt

To serve
Wraps or pitta
Hummus (or vegan garlic “mayo”)
Thinly sliced cucumber

Soak the chickpeas in a pan of cold water for 24 hours.

The next day, make the pickled onions first. Put the sliced onion, vinegar and salt in a small saucepan, add four tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Drain the chickpeas really, really thoroughly, then put them in a food processor with the carrot, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, bicarb, chilli and parsley. Pulse until the mixture resembles a grainy paste, then transfer to a bowl and stir in the gram flour.

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Line two baking trays with greaseproof or baking paper (ideally, a reusable one) and drizzle with olive oil.

Take a roughly 40g ball of the falafel mixture, pack it as tight as you can between your hands, then gently flatten to around 6cm across x 2cm deep, patting the edges with a finger to neaten it up. Pop it on the prepared tray and repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Drizzle olive oil over the patties, then bake for 20-25 minutes, until crisp and golden.

Heat up some wraps or pitta, spread lavishly with hummus or garlic “mayo”, line with cucumber and the drained pickled onions, fill with falafel and finish with sriracha, if you wish.