Although falafel mix is usually made with dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight, I have cheated by using tinned chickpeas with a bit of besan (chickpea) flour added to mimic the authentic results. Meaty portobello mushrooms make the perfect base for this crunchy, herbaceous filling. The tahini sauce is a delicious condiment to bring it all together. Vegan and gluten-free never tasted so satisfying.
4 large portobello mushrooms (or 8 if they are smaller)
oil for frying (peanut, olive oil or vegetable oil)
400g can chickpeas
1 bunch coriander
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
50g shallots, peeled and roughly chopped (1 medium sized)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1½ tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp besan flour
1½ tsp flaked salt
6 tbsp boiling water
1 small garlic clove
1½ tsp flaked salt
2 tsp Mexican-style hot sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
watermelon radish slices
1. To make the falafel mix, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Then combine all the falafel ingredients except the besan flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the machine until the mixture is green and looks well mixed. A few small chunks are fine as long as the garlic and onions have been pureed. Alternatively, you can do this in a blender, using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blade as it can be quite dry. Tip the mixture into a bowl, add the besan flour and salt and mix to combine. Set aside.
2. Remove the mushroom stems and use a spoon to scrape out the dark brown gills. Sprinkle mushrooms with some salt. Add about two tablespoons olive oil to a large frypan and cook the mushrooms for four to five minutes each side until they are softened. Remove mushrooms from the frypan and set them aside.
3. Divide the falafel mixture by the number of mushrooms you have and press the mixture into the stem side of the mushroom as if you were shaping a burger patty.
4. Heat a very wide saute pan and add enough oil to come slightly up the sides (about 100-200ml, depending on the size of your pan). When the oil is hot, fry the mushrooms, falafel side down, over medium heat for five minutes, or until they are a nice dark brown, then flip and cook five minutes on the other side. Do this in two stages if you have too many mushrooms to fit in one even layer without touching. Keep the first batch in a warm oven while you fry the others, if needed.
5. While the mushrooms are frying, mix the tahini sauce. Add tahini to a bowl, add the boiling water and mix until it becomes smooth, lighter in colour and a bit loose. Add more water if you like the sauce more runny. Grate the garlic with a Microplane and add it to the sauce with the salt, hot sauce and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
6. Serve the falafel mushrooms hot, garnished with fresh radish, dill and lemon wedges, accompanied by the tahini sauce.