The first time I tasted falafel was at a fast food restaurant that specialized in pita bread meals. I had anticipated the meal as I like chickpeas but when I bit into the sandwich it was nothing special. The flavour wasn't too bad but the chickpea balls were like sawdust in my mouth. I knew immediately that the falafel could be made much better than the dry, crumbly balls that were fare for my lunch that day. So the search began.
I looked through dozens of recipes on the internet as my collection of cookbooks had a limited range of Middle Eastern foods. I tried several recipes using canned chickpeas and although they tasted fine, the texture was still dry or worse yet, wet. I knew I'd have to venture into the "real" recipes using dried chickpeas. It was then I came across the original recipe on which I base the one below. Of course, I've put my own spin on the recipe and made it my own.
I've made these many times and have usually served them in pita bread with all the fixings as you see in the pictures but I've also served them several other ways as well. I've made them mini and served them like nuggets with a dipping sauce or put them in those little bite-sized pita breads as appetizers and I've even made them larger for a falafel burger.
Falafels1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight or longer
1 teaspoon baking soda, optional
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
1/2-1 cup very finely minced onion (I often just put a quartered onion in the processor with the chickpeas.)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch (or more) of cayenne pepper
Black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup water, if needed
Oil for frying
Soak chickpeas overnight or longer in a bowl that will allow at least 3 or 4 inches of water to cover the beans.
Drain the chickpeas and put them into a food processor or blender. Add the baking soda, salt and garlic. Blend until you have the texture of medium to fine bread crumbs in a chickpea paste. Do not grind the complete mixture into a paste as you want mainly "crumbs" with enough paste to bind the mixture together.
Place the blended chickpeas in a large bowl. Add the onion, parsley, cilantro, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cayenne and lemon juice. Mix gently. Add water if too dry. I find my mixture does not need the water added if the chickpeas have not been thoroughly drained.
Pour 1 inch of oil in a wok or frying pan and set it over medium low heat.
While the oil heats, form the mixture into patties. (Traditional falafel is formed into balls but patties are easier to fit in pita bread.) Form patties that are about 2 inches in diameter. Don't squeeze them or compact them too much. The patties should just hold together. Put as many patties into the hot oil as the wok or frying pan will hold in a single layer. Fry about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. When the patties are done, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Repeat with remaining falafel mixture.
Falafel mixture may also be formed into balls and deep fried or baked as patties on an oiled pan in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Makes about 18-24 patties.
Falafels are naturally vegetarian/vegan and are high in protein. Make a full meal sandwich by serving your falafels in pita bread with your favourite salad vegetables. Add tahini sauce, hummus, yogurt or even salad dressing. It's your sandwich--make it to your taste.
Fried to a golden brown, draining on a paper towel.
Break out the pita bread, hummus and vegetables and have taste party in your mouth.
What a colourful and tasty meal!