Bowl Food – it’s a thing!
When I first saw this I admit that I groaned a little: Really? Are we just going to swap a plate for a bowl and call it a thing now? Surely this belongs in the crockery section not cookery. But then I set aside my pre-conceptions and explored the idea further.
Bowl food is designed to be both healthy and comforting and we could all do with some of that – especially in January. You will sometimes find bowl food referred to as “Bliss Bowls” and the idea is to create a blissful base of grain (couscous, rice etc.) and then top it with lots of tasty veggies and a protein source. The whole thing should then be pulled together with a killer sauce or dressing.
So, yesterday, Martin headed off to work in Southampton leaving me home alone for a few days. Whilst I miss him, I also really enjoy having a bit of me time; time to read, to think, to cook and to pretend to work on that novel… This is where bowl food comes into its own for me: I can skip any kind of formality, fill a bowl with tasty stuff, light the fire and curl up on the sofa with a book in one hand and a fork in the other.
So this time I made a bowl full of Moroccan flavours; a little spiced and fruity couscous topped with roasted peppers, carrots and cauliflower, some spinach, hummus and a couple of falafel. I pulled the whole thing together with a warm dressing made from hummus, harissa paste and olive oil.
I added ground cumin and coriander to the roasted veg and sprinkled the carrots with sesame seeds for the last five minutes of cooking and used the same spices in the falafel to help pull it all together.
A bliss bowl doesn’t have to be plant based but it’s good to have a few meat free meals a week and I decided to make this one vegan in honour of Veganuary.
My recipe for the falafel can be found below – it’s probably not entirely authentic but it tastes good and that’s good enough for me. You can use shop bought if you prefer. Again, I made my own hummus but you can buy that too making this a really simple meal.
In the interests of honesty I feel obliged to tell you that if you put this on a plate it will still taste just as good!
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas in water
1 small Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Chopped Parsley and Coriander (about a handful)
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tbsp Gram Flour (or plain flour)
Groundnut or sunflower oil for deep frying
Slice the onion and cook gently in the olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Drain and rinse the chick peas and pat them dry with some kitchen roll. Add to the pan with the onions and cook for two or three minutes to make sure the chick peas are completely dry – you don’t want too much moisture in the finished falafel.
Season well with salt and place half the chick pea mix in the food processor. Blitz until quite smooth. Add the second half of the mix and pulse until chopped but still quite coarse. Tip the mixture into a bowl and stir through the chopped herbs. If the mixture still seems a little wet stir in the gram flour too.
Shape the mixture into golf ball sized balls (this mixture will make about 6) and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer (or deep saucepan) to 180°C. If the oil is too hot the falafel will burn before the middle is cooked. Add the falafel and cook until golden brown all over.
If you don’t like to deep fry you can shallow fry or even bake them but they do turn out best if they are deep fried.
Drain and serve hot.