So my husband recently took a business trip to Israel. And he did not take me… I’m still getting over it. Anywho, he took this trip and while there posted on Facebook that he was having the best falafel of his life, falafel to ruin him for all other falafels.
Ever since, he has been asking me to add this Middle-East treat to our menu rotation. I’ve eaten my weight in falafel, but before now, I’ve never made it, so I was eager to give it a try. To be honest, I am insecure when it comes to frying foods. I don’t have a deep fryer, so I use my dutch oven and find it challenging to regulate the ever changing temperature of the oil.
…And there is sometimes splattering. No one likes that.
But then at the end there will be falafel, so let’s be brave and try it anyway. For the recipe, I relied upon Joan Nathan’s excellent cookbook, The Foods of Israel Today. She starts with soaking uncooked garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), but I want falafel now!!… so I used canned.
My husband craved a sandwich, but I wasn’t enthusiastic about the pita, so I opted for a salad. This recipe goes either way. This falafel is crunchy, tender and delicious with a strong garlic undertone. Nothing wrong with that. In either a sandwich or salad, the greens are a nice counterpoint to the crunchy fried goodness.
Here are the ingredients:
- two 15-oz. cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
- 1 large onion, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4-8 tablespoons chickpea/garbanzo flour (or all-purpose works too)
- canola, soybean or vegetable oil for frying
- french fries or oven fries
- shredded lettuce
- sliced tomatoes
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- crumbled feta cheese, optional (not pictured)
Roughly chop about 1/2 of the onion. Put the chickpeas and chopped onion in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic, and cumin.
Process until finely chopped but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour. Pulse. Add additional flour as needed, up to a 1/2 cup total. You want to add enough so that the dough can be formed into balls and no longer sticks to your hands. I wanted to have tiny pieces of the beans, onion, etc in my falafel. So when I had my desired consistency, I transferred the mixture to a bowl to incorporate the additional flour without processing the mixture further. Transfer the falafel mixture to a small bowl and cover tightly. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Cut up the lettuce, tomato and remaining red onion. Squeeze over some lemon juice, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and toss.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts (I used a #60 scoop) and then flatten into a small patty. This ensures more even cooking.
Heat about 2 inches of oil in heavy pan (I used my dutch oven) to 375 degrees. Of course, if you have a deep fryer, fire that baby up! Fry one patty to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 patties at once for a couple of minutes on each side, or until golden brown (mine took 3 minutes total). Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt…because salt tastes good.
SANDWICH: Cut each pita in half and split open. Put some Tziki in the bottom, add the falafel, the lettuce and tomato mixture and a couple of oven fries on top. Top with more Tahziki and eat.
SALAD: Pile the lettuce and tomato mixture (and whatever other yummy crunchy salad stuff you have on hand) on a plate, drizzle with tahziki, top with falafel. Delicious! Served this way, the dish of my fried falafel becomes a healthy salad. Poof. Guilt gone.