Pic of Harissa falafels with spiced beetroot, kefir dressing and pittas

Harissa falafels with spiced beetroot, kefir dressing and pittas

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Vegetarian mains

Harissa falafels with spiced beetroot, kefir dressing and pittas

Main Serves 2 40 min
The original street food craze, long before pulled pork and Mexican wraps came along, was the falafel, beloved of music festivals and veggie cafés the world over. In place of the usual summer accompaniments of cucumber and tomatoes, we've gone for an earthy and sweet beetroot preparation. We make kefir at our dairy in Devon. It's not unlike yoghurt in taste and texture and it's fermented so it contains plenty of beneficial bacteria.

Cook's notes

Lightly crush garlic cloves with the flat of a knife to loosen the skin and make them easier to peel.


  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 30g parsley
  • 100g rocket
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp wholemeal flour
  • 1 large or 2 smaller shallots
  • 2 beetroots
  • 1 apple
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 250ml kefir
  • olive oil
  • 4 pitta breads
  • salt and pepper
Image of Harissa falafels with spiced beetroot, kefir dressing and pittas


Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 25 min
  • Step 1

    Zest and juice the lemon. Peel and finely chop or crush the garlic. Wash the parsley, shake it dry, remove the leaves and chop them finely. Wash the rocket and spin, shake or pat it dry. Drain the chickpeas and add them to the bowl of a food processor with the harissa, cumin, flour, half the lemon zest, half the chopped garlic and half the chopped parsley.
  • Step 2

    Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and blend until combined but still fairly coarse. Alternatively, you can finely chop the chickpeas on a board with a large knife and mix with the other ingredients in a bowl, pressing and squeezing with your hands until well combined. Shape the falafel mix into 8 equal-sized balls. Press each ball down to form a slightly flattened burger shape. Leave to one side. Peel the shallot and slice it very finely.
  • Step 3

    Wash and peel the beetroots, grate them coarsely. Wash the apple and grate that into the beetroot, skin and all (discard the core). Add the sliced shallots, allspice and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the beetroot. Season well with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Make the dressing by whisking together the mustard, tahini and kefir. Add the remaining parsley, lemon zest and garlic, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Step 4

    Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan and fry the falafels for 2-3 minutes a side, until golden. Place them on the baking tray with the pitta breads and pop in the oven for 5 minutes for everything to heat through. Slice open the pittas and wedge a couple of falafels, some rocket, dressing and a little beetroot into each and scoff hot. Eat the remaining rocket and beetroot as a side.

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