Baked Chickpea Kofta Tacos with Avocado and Harissa

kofta tacos

These heavenly little chickpea cakes served as a taco topping are rather a cross between a kofta and a falafel. Essentially a fusion dish, India, the Middle East and Mexico all embrace the flavors that I enjoy most, so why not mix them all together to create one stunning dish that is especially suited to summer weather and patio dining. These taco delights are spicy, especially with a zesty but fresh-tasting green herb harissa, but the heat is all balanced nicely by cooling avocado, tomatoes and corn, and a scoop of yogurt if you please.

I took advantage of the fresh herbs, peppers and tomatoes that are popping up in my backyard garden — summer is much too short and the growing seasoning particularly precious. Although fresh herbs are available year round, I always find that I end up wasting much of what I buy because the bunches are frequently far larger than I need — hence the appeal of herbs that I grow myself as I can pick what I need for dinner, in addition to admiring the plants grown with loving care. And of course, there is nothing better than fresh homegrown peppers and tomatoes to adorn your meals.

What I particularly found appealing when I was drafting and assembling the dish is that the koftas are baked instead of fried, meaning less mess and it cuts down on the cooking time. I for one don't relish the idea of excess oil, nor standing over a hot stove meticulously frying up batches at a time.

chickpea tacos

Here is what I did, but the possibilities are endless and any number of toppings can be used to enhance the taco experience, such as cucumber, a fresh tomato salsa sauce, green onion and/or tzatziki. If you are feeding a number of people and want to please the crowd, it's fun to let your guests build their own tacos and choose the toppings of their choice. I also opted to serve mine with some nutty quinoa on the side. If you want to make this dish vegan, omit the yogurt or ricotta cheese in the koftas and add more oil as needed.

Baked Chickpea Kofta Tacos with Avocado and HarissaBaked Chickpea Kofta Tacos with Avocado and Harissa
Recipe by
Cuisine: Middle Eastern/Indian/Mexican
Published on August 5, 2013

Soft, creamy and spicy baked chickpea, potato and herb koftas served with avocado, tomato, corn and a zesty fresh-tasting green harissa on warm corn tortillas

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Green jalapeño herb harissa:
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 to 3 dried whole red chilies, broken into pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1 habenaro chili, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • sesame oil as needed
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (2/3 cup dried or 1 19 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 medium potato, cooked, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives
  • 1 small onion or large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder (optional)
  • a few pinches of asafetida (optional)
  • 1 red or green chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons yogurt or ricotta cheese (optional)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 10 to 12 6-inch or 7-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels, roasted or boiled until tender
  • plain yogurt (optional)
  • Begin by making the harissa. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds and dried red chilies in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant — about 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and add the garlic, jalapeños, habenaro if using, fresh herbs, lemon juice and salt. Pulse together and add sesame oil to achieve a creamy consistency. Set aside at room temperature or in the refrigerator until needed.

  • To prepare the koftas, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cooked chickpeas and pine nuts in a food processor and process until the ingredients are ground into a coarse even meal. Scoop about 1/3 of this mixture into the bowl, add the cooked potato, and stir well to combine.

  • Return the potato and chickpea mixture to the food processor and add the parsley or cilantro, chives, onion or shallot, spices, chili, salt, baking powder, chickpea flour and sesame seeds. Pulse for 2 to 3 minutes to combine, then add the yogurt or ricotta if using. Add sesame oil as needed (use more if you are omitting the yogurt or ricotta cheese) and continue to process until you get a moist mixture that will hold together to shape into small patties.

  • Rub your hands with oil and shape the kofta mixture into 12 small patties — about 2 inches in diameter. Transfer to the prepared sheet and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

  • When you are ready to bake the koftas, heat an oven to 375°. Bake the koftas for 30 minutes, gently flipping them part way through the baking time, until both sides are golden brown.

  • To serve, place a warmed corn tortilla on a plate and brush with a teaspoon of harissa. Top with avocado, chopped tomato, a sprinkle of corn, and 1 or 2 koftas as desired. Spread a little more harissa on the kofta and drizzle a little whisked yogurt on top if desired.

  • Wrap and serve to be eaten with your hands or a fork.

Makes 10 to 12 tacos or 4 to 6 servings
tacos with avocado and harissa and koftas

More delightful savory patties you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Chickpea Patties Smothered in Vegetable Gravy
Quinoa Goat Cheese and Parmesan Cakes
Curried Quinoa and Wild Rice Savory Cakes
Cheese and Herb Fritters with Tomato and Balsamic Jam

On the top of the reading stack: Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking, with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less by Raghavan Iyer

Audio Accompaniment: Harold Budd


Priya Suresh said...

Such a guilt free koftas, inviting platter..

kpks said...

Hey Lisa,
Brilliant minds everywhere have the same idea ;)

I made a similar kofta today, except I used chana dal instead of chickpeas and spring onions instead of shallots (too lazy to peel and chop shallots)

I tucked mine between slices of bread and made it into a vegetarian burger.

Your harissa is very intriguing.

Must try.

tracy said...

love your recipes