The origins of falafel are as contentious as territorial debates in the Middle Eastern world. The great falafel debate — whether it originated in Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and yes, even India — has garnered a legitimate food fight on who invented these delicious little chickpea fritters. Heck, they are so delicious, anyone that can be credited with the invention deserves serious admiration! I reckon, no one can really prove its origins as local cuisines were adapted in various countries with new immigrants from various cultures. Where ever its origins, these fried chickpea balls are beyond tasty and need to be made for you and your family to enjoy!
I was once told by an Arab woman that you can tell the freshness and quality of a falafel by the colour of the insides of the falafel. If the insides are brown and dull, the falafel was probably made by a mix or it is not as fresh as it should be. A fresh falafel should have insides that are green and vibrant!
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Alright, so maybe this trendy grain isn’t the most glamorous-looking food but it’s quick, gluten-free, uber healthy and loaded with protein. I’ve been mildly obsessed lately with this curious little grain called ‘quinoa’ so, naturally, I had to share this recipe with you.
So what is quinoa [keen•wah] you ask? For starters, it’s the new kid on the block. It seems to be turning up in recipes everywhere – whether it be served as a salad, or added to a salad, in a stew, as a side dish (in place of rice), or even as part of an entrée. It’s an ancient grain which is nutty in taste with a soft yet slightly crunchy texture. Its flavour is inherently flat with a mild nutty tone, so it begs to be mixed with lots of fragrant and delicious ingredients to permeate the quinoa and flavour it. It is equally delicious served warm or cold.
Consider this your basic introduction to quinoa if you’ve never cooked it before. It’s a simple bare-bones recipe. Once you’ve honed your quinoa-making skills and tempered your palette in favour of this delicious little superfood, you can add beans, feta cheese, butternut squash (heaven!) or even protein (chicken, etc.). I’ve even added 1/4 cup of toasted almonds for some added texture and flavour to this recipe in the past. For a deeper, nuttier flavour, you can also roast the quinoa in a dry skillet for five minutes before cooking it but if you’re a quinoa rookie, start with this basic recipe to get a taste for it then you can go on to add just about any ingredient that tickles your fancy.
If you’re unfamiliar with quinoa, here is some helpful Q & A: Do you have to store quinoa in the refrigerator? It stores easily in an airtight container in a dry kitchen cabinet and won’t turn rancid quickly. Its shelf life is at least a year. Do you have to wash/rinse the quinoa before cooking? In its natural state, quinoa has a bitter-tasting coating on each seed, called saponin, which protects it from being eaten by birds. Historically, the seeds need to be soaked to remove this coating before cooking and eating it. Today, the pre-washing of the seeds before packaging is quite thorough, so all you have to do is give the quinoa a quick rinse for good measure.