Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quinoa chickpea fritters - or falafels

Recently, I've discovered the joys of quinoa.  Now, I know a lot of you lovely readers are healthy eaters and know all about the benefits of this grain.  Here's a refresher for those (like me) who are new to it.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed that is native to South America. It contains all 9 essential amino acids and it is gluten-free and cholesterol-free.  Of all the wholegrains, quinoa has the most protein, yet it cooks relatively quickly, in 10 to 15 minutes (1 part quinoa to 2 parts water).  Some say to rinse the quinoa before using but I don't do this and it seems fine.

I found my quinoa in the healthfood aisle at the supermarket, and it's called 'Organic Royal Quinoa' and is a 'product of Bolivia'.  Regardless of the health benefits, and that it's quick to cook, is the taste - I wouldn't eat something that tastes average - quinoa has a great chewy-soft texture and lovely nutty flavour. You just need to add some olive oil, salt or lemon juice to make it even better.

These fritters (aka falafels) combine the virtuosity of quinoa, carrot and chickpeas with the tastiness of spices, lemon and garlic. It's served with a tahini sauce to moisten up the fritters a bit. They are a winner even with avowed meat eaters.

Quinoa and Chickpea Fritters
serves 4

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 large carrot, chopped
3 spring onions, sliced
2 tblsp parsley, chopped
400g chickpeas
2 eggs
2 tblsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tblsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tblsp olive oil

Tzatziki and Tahini sauce
1 cup tzatziki (or plain yoghurt)
1/4 cup tahini
1 tblsp lemon juice

1. Bring 1 cup of water to the boil in a small saucepan.  Add the quinoa, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
2. In a food processor, blend the carrots and parsley.  Add the spring onion, chickpeas, eggs, lemon juice, cumin, sesame seeds and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper. Blend until combined.  Add the quinoa and pulse until just combined.  Place mixture in the refrigerator to chill for an hour, or overnight.
3.  Heat olive oil in a non-stick frypan over medium heat.  Form the quinoa mixture into small patties, flattening slightly.  Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until golden.
4.  For the tahini sauce: Whisk the sauce ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.
5.  Serve the fritters warm or at room temperature with a dollop of the sauce.

Recipe adapted from
Ingredients, before and after cooking the quinoa.  See how fluffy it becomes.

Form the chilled mixture into fritter shapes, then cook in olive oil until golden

Serve the quinoa and chickpea fritters with tzatziki and tahini sauce.
I hesitate to suggest it, but this is so healthy that it might be okay to pig out on chocolate for dessert...


  1. I am also quite new to quinoa and am yet to get into it. Not that I have an aversion to healthy food, I just don't know what to do with it other than cook it and put it in salads, over cereal or in lovely fritters like this

  2. We like to eat quinoa and this recipe is another great use for it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm a quinoa lover but have never tried it in patties before. I love falafel so I'll definitely be trying this!

  4. Lovely! Unfortunately my partner's stupid trial diet does not allow quinoa either, but I do love it in salads and these patties sound so delicious I might just have to make them for myself :-)

  5. Wow, what a nice way to use the idea of mixing with chickpeas...looks delicious. Great pictures as well :-)

  6. Absolutely delicious! These fritters contain two of my all time favourite ingredients: quinoa and chickpeas!

  7. Havn't actually tried Quinoa before, sounds like a great way to introduce it to my palate ;)

  8. Now this is something really fun! A great way to work with quinoa!

  9. Quinoa fritters! What a clever idea. I need to do that for my meatless mondays.

  10. I want some too! The quinoa fritters look scrumptious!

  11. That's a great idea adding quinoa to felafel to give it an extra nutty crunch! :D

  12. What a great take on felafel! I love the nuttiness of quinoa although it's a lot pricier than chickpeas. These look so crispy/tasty and fresh with the yoghurt dressing. Feels like spring.

  13. I am a big fan of Quinoa. Your fritters look deliciously colourful. I love creative Vegetarian food and this is certainly one of those.

  14. Bel, I don't know if you realize it but you are probably the one who has introduced me to so many new ingredients... I've heard of quinoa before but the way you present your dishes makes me want to just go any buy some of it and try this straight away.

  15. I would love something like this for breakfast - looks very tasty and healthy at the same time!

  16. Hey Bel, I agree that besides being healthful quinoa is also very chewy and delicious. There is nothing offensive about it at all if cooked properly. And i can see that you have done that with these fritters (smile). They look so delicious, Bel. I'm going to try this for sure. I always have some kind of organic quinoa in the house... In fact, I'm visiting my parents, but I'm going to check the kitchen and see if my Mom has any now...

  17. I've never had quinoa before....didn't even know how to pronounce it! But it looks delicious! And it doesn't even look too healthy! haha.....I'll have to try it some time- I love fritters of pretty much any sort =]
    Do you think they'll taste good cold? I was thinking...maybe I could make some and leave some for my lunchbox =]

  18. Hello... Very nice recipe.Quinoa is my new found love and this is a great way to eat it. Sure going to try this one...

  19. My love of chickpeas combined with the greatness of fritters, makes this seem like a winner. I've cooked very little quinoa, but think I will have to use it more because this looks very tasty, and the word quinoa sounds cool.

  20. Oh yummy! What a bonus that quinoa just happens to be a superfood too!

  21. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing! We love fritters a.k.a. patty cakes in our house.

  22. Very nice and great with some chilli jam!!!!