Black Sesame Baked Falafel – Zero Dark Thirty

The film:

The dish:

The reason:

Def: Zero Dark Thirty: Military terminology referring to 30 minutes past 12, or a time when it’s just darn dark outside.

One might think these falafels are the perfect match for Kathryn Bigelow’s mysteriously titled filmic hunt for Osama  because it takes exactly twelve and a half minutes to bake them.  It might relate to the the way their pitch black sesame crust and lurid green interior echoes the film’s extended night vision action sequence of Seal Team Six’s raid on a certain compound in Abbottabad. Or it might be because despite all the controversy about torture, the most useful information seems to emerge not after water boarding, but sharing patties made from pulses.

You’ll find on these falafel an armoured exterior as tough as Maya’s (Jessica Chastain’s) resolve. Like her, a falafel’s overall effect benefits greatly from contrast with softer supporting players; here it’s not Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Ehle, but hummous, garlic yoghurt, flat breads and the firey heat of pickled peppers. One thing you cannot do is cut corners. Be sure to use dried chickpeas and slowly soak them overnight. If you’re sloppy and revert to using canned  there’s a 100 per cent (or at least 95 per cent- because we know that certainty freaks you guys out) chance that everything will collapse, swifter than a Stealth Black Hawk during a mission -critical moment.

The way:

Black Sesame Baked Falafel

Makes 12- 16 falafel
Nb you will need to begin this recipe the day before.


1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water (do not use tinned)
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1/3 cup firmly packed fresh mint
1/3 cup firmly packed fresh coriander leaves
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1.5 tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp baking powder
Generous pinch of salt
½ cup olive oil
½ cup of black sesame seeds

Garlic yoghurt, hummous, flat breads and pickled chillis to serve


1) Combine the drained, soaked chickpeas in a food processor, or place in a bowl that you can use with a stick blender. Add the herbs, lemon, spices, garlic, baking powder and salt.

2) Blend until smooth. Taste. Add a little more salt if it is bland.

3) Take a heat proof baking dish (about the size of an A4 sheet of paper) and pour in the olive oil. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 392 F. Place the baking dish with the oil in it in the oven while it is preheating.

4) Create balls out of the mixture that are around 1 tbsp large, then roll the falafel in the sesame seeds, to create a crust.

5) Place half of the falafels in the baking dish with the hot oil. Place in the oven and bake for 6 minutes on one side.

6) After six minutes carefully remove the baking tray and turn the falafel over. Bake the other side for six and a half minutes. When the falafel are crispy, drain on paper towel and repeat with the remaining mixture.

7) Serve with pickled chillis, flat bread, hummous and garlic yoghurt.

 Reviews and podcasts

For some excellent spoiler podcast of Zero Dark Thirty go here and for a great review, go  here

{ 1 Comment }
  1. Another gorgeous looking recipe – I love the idea of coating these falafels in poppy seeds.

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