Unhealthy festival binging is almost like necessary evil. However, these falafel pita pockets are a testimony to the fact that healthy can be scrumptious and good enough for festivities. I had created this recipe for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine for their Diwali issue this year.

For Falafel

1 C dried Green Garbanzo Beans / Chholiya (Hara Chana)

½ C Peas (fresh or frozen)

2 tbsp Pistachio

½ C fresh Coriander (leaves & stalk)

1/3 C Mint Leaves

½ C Parsley leaves

Zest of a Lime

6 fat cloves Garlic

3 Green Chilies

½ C roughly chopped Onion

3 – 4 tbsp Chickpea Flour (Besan)

½ tsp Baking Powder

2 tbsp Tahini

2 tsp Cumin Powder

2 tsp Coriander Powder

Salt to taste

1 C Sesame Seeds (optional)

Oil for frying

For Chipotle Sauce

¾ C Yogurt

1 – 1½ tsp ground Chipotle (adjust heat to taste)

3 tbsp Tahini

1 fat clove Garlic

¼ tsp Salt or to taste

Soak the dried green garbanzo beans overnight.

The same evening make the Chipotle Sauce as the flavours fuse really well when they sit over night.

For the Sauce, finely grate the garlic. Gently whip the yogurt till it becomes smooth in consistency. Add to the yogurt, all the ingredients mentioned under the sauce category. Mix everything well. Add a few teaspoons of water if the consistency is too thick. Transfer and store in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge till ready to use.

Drain the beans and dry them a little by keeping them in a large sieve or a colander.

Pulse the pistachio in a spice blender till it attains a coarse texture.

In a food processor, process together all the ingredients mentioned under the falafel category, except chickpea flour, till a rough paste is obtained. Remove from the processor and mix in the flour along with the baking powder.

Make 24 balls of equal size and roll each one of them in sesame seeds. (This is optional but highly recommended since sesame seeds give the falafels a beautiful nutty flavour.)

Place the rolled balls on a greased plate and cover gently with a cling wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Place a wok or frying pan on heat and add oil till it is one and half to two inches high. Reduce the heat to medium.

After about forty five seconds, add a small amount of the falafel mixture into the oil. If it floats to the top and the oil is bubbling around the edges, the oil is hot enough to fry the mixture.

Fry the falafel in batches of 5 – 6 falafels each. Do not over crowd the pan as this will result in drop in temperature. (If the falafels are browning too fast, reduce the heat)

Be careful when adding the falafel rolled in sesame as the seeds will start crackling and splutter around. To deal with this, as soon as you add the falafel to the pan, carefully but quickly turn them over after a few seconds.

Turn each falafel after every twenty to thirty seconds for even cooking.

Once they turn brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on an absorbent sheet to remove excess oil.

To serve, take pita bread and cut it in two halves. Carefully make a cavity inside the pita bread using a sharp knife. Fill each pita pocket with a salad of your choice. Add the falafels whole, smashed or halved and drizzle over the Chipotle Sauce.

For a non fried version, spray or brush the uncooked falafel balls with some oil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for 20 – 25 minutes on one side or till golden brown. Turn over the balls and bake the other side for another few minutes till golden brown.

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