Falafel Burgers with Cashew Tzatziki


Made of Ground Chickpeas

MUSIC MOOD: Here’s some music to listen to (and also look at because the creativity of the video does the concept so much justice) while you cook. Snoh Aelegra is one of our new favorite musicians. There’s much progress from the pioneering Amy Winehouse did, and you know how much I love Amy.  If you like this snippet, you can find the entire song for “Nothing Burns Like the Cold” on Youtube.

I’ve been making and baking my falafels homemade for a few years now.  For most of that time I approached my balls using my own interpretation of what a falafel might be, not based on online information but based on casual experiences I had eating out, and it was in no way traditional.  Honestly I was careless with tradition. I used canned chickpeas (not dried) and added in extra breadcrumbs to create the crumbly texture I recognized. I just assumed it couldn’t be that different from a meatball/quinoa-ball, right? So I treated them equally. But it was that very negligence kept me from improving my falafel game!

That period lasted until I actually asked a falafel-maker from a falafel food truck specializing in–you guessed it–falafels, how they make theirs so juicy and textured.

“It’s just dried chickpeas we soak and blend,” corrected the guy while he reached his arm out from the small cut of the window to pass me my warm stuffed pita. I stared up at him like he was a glittering angel peering down on me with guidance, and grabbed the sandwich. I shred away the top of the foil and parchment paper to expose the soft folded bread, dug into it until my teeth reached a hot fried ball and then bit it in half.  I stared down into the interior of the falafel, and for the first time, really saw that steamy ball for what it really was: pure chickpeas. Unadulterated chickpeas. In all their glory. Just ground and crunchy and juicy. And that’s when I decided going forward my previous approach would no longer do.  

I started soaking and grinding my chickpeas and that changed everything, but because I wasn’t frying them and baking them instead, they were not as juicy in the center as I knew they could be–all the oven time sucked them dry of their precious juices. So to remedy that, I decided to just up their circumference. Turn them into patties to give them enough time to get crunchy on the outside but still retain lots of moisture-integrity in their innards. 

Here are the ingredients for my Falafel Burgers:

  • 1, 16 ounce bag of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight until plumped, then drained
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley, stems removed
  • 1 1 /2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling and coating
  • Juice from 1 juicy lime
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 heaping tsp cumin powder
  • 1 heaping tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseeds

Cashew Tzatziki:

I served these burger patties with a tzatziki sauce made of ground cashew. It was a recipe adapted from my friend Brianne from Natural Girl Modern World. And let me tell you it was such a flavorful tzatziki! Her idea to use cashews as the base of the dip instead of plant-based yogurt, which can range so drastically between brands, offered the perfect solution. 

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or for 1 hour submerged in boiling water until softened
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup shredded cucumber, drained (About 1/2 medium cucumber)
  • 2 tsp dried dill or handful fresh dill roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional additions for serving:

  • pita bread, for serving
  • sliced tomatoes
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • spring mix 
  • fresh lime wedges!
  • cilantro
  • hummus

To make the falafel burgers, drain away the excess water that the chickpeas have been soaking in, and rinse them off. Transfer them to a food processor, along with the parsely, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and lemon juice. Pulse until the chickpeas are coarsely ground and almost mealy. You will most likely need to do this in batches depending on the size of your food processor. Add the ground chickpea mixture to a large mixing bowl, and add in the salt, crushed red pepper, onion powder, cumin powder, dried oregano, and ground flaxseeds, and mix together until completely combined. 

From the mixture, mold 8 equal-sized patties, compacting in your hands so they don’t fall apart, but not too tightly that they’re heavy and dense (if you can help it.) Then place the patties on a sheet tray to and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until hardened, and then you can transfer to a ziplock bag to freeze until you’re ready to cook (Which can also be immediately)

When you’re ready to cook, heat the oven to 450 degrees, and rub the frozen patties with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until cooked through and browned on the outside. (You can also sear them on a oiled skillet, and then turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and allow the patties to finish steaming until they’re cooked through) Serve!

To make the Cashew Tzatziki, drain and rinse the soaked and softened cashews, and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. 

Then add in the lime juice, water, and garlic and blend until completely combined and then transfer to a bowl.

Drain the shredded cucumber inside a wad of paper towels until all the water wrings out. Fold the drained cucumber into the blended cashews along with the dill, and serve with the cooked patties. You can serve them inside a pita pocket with some spring mix, and thinly sliced red onion. (I just ate my patties pita-less, because I have been going in hard on the carbs this week, and felt like I needed a little relief 🙂 )

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