Good falafel is hard to find. I have found many a falafel to be overly dry; a rather disappointing experience that no doubt gives this spectacular food a bad rep.
When you can’t find what you want, make it yourself.
Happy as can be, I stumbled across a food blog, The Shiksa in the Kitchen, which has an excellent falafel recipe posted. The blog is written by a Shiksa – a non-Jewish woman who is married to a Jewish man – converted to Judaism. She lends a great deal of humor to interfaith marriage and from my point of view, keeps a great blog. This is one I’ll be following regularly.
But back to falafel. A traditional Israeli snack, falafel is simply a fried vegetarian chickpea patty served with hummus and tahini sauce. Stuffing these little guys into pitas was an invention later brought to life by Jewish immigrants to make the food more portable. The rest is history, which can be found on the Shiksa’s page.
During my search, I found various recipes, some using canned chickpeas, some using dried which were to be soaked. Some using tahini in the actual patty, others condemning anyone from adding it in. I chose the Shiksa’s recipe, well, because she’s a Shiksa. But also because she has been to Israel and she actually studies food (anthropology, cultural cuisine, etc.).
Someone was eager to help clear the floor of any dropped falafel mix.
Adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen, Makes 30-34 small patties
1 pound (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3-5 cloves garlic
2 eggs (optional – I added them just to hold the patties together a little better)
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cardamom
Vegetable oil for frying or searing (grapeseed, canola, and peanut oil work well)
– Soak the beans in cold water overnight: Canned and cooked chickpeas contain too much moisture for the fritters to fry up properly.
– Drain and rinse the beans and place in a food processor along with the onion, eggs, garlic, spices, flour and parsley. Pulse to achieve a consistency somewhere between couscous and a somewhat dry paste so they hold together when shaped, but don’t turn it into hummus! Place the mixture in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
– Depending on how fried you want these fritters will determine how much oil you heat up in a pan or skillet. I used about 3 TBS to sear the top and bottom and they came out great. Cook on medium heat, each side for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
– Remove from pan when done and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil.
You could also coat the outside of these patties with sesame seeds for extra crunch. Or you can add turmeric to the batter for yellow falafel. The extra parsley is what makes these fritters green.
I whipped together a quick cucumber yogurt sauce to top them off: Just mix together plain greek yogurt, minced cucumbers, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper. They are great dipped in hummus and topped with tomatoes and cucumbers.
These were a big hit with the family. Someone even said they were better than the falafel at the local lebanese food cart!