As noted in my previous post on Zhoug , I have been craving Middle Eastern food. I had warm pita, tahini sauce, and tzatziki on my mind, and I could not shake the thought. Maybe it was because I was craving something without meat for once, and something that was not only going to be extremely satisfying, but something that would be healthy and great in flavor. And then it occurred to me, that falafel would meet all of those requirements.
Falafel in its simplest form is nothing but amazing. Simple chickpeas, along with some herbs, garlic, and a few other things that are lightly ground together, are transformed into bite sized morsels. When I first encountered falafel, I believe in my late teens while eating at a Lebanese joint in Milwaukee, I was shocked. I was shocked only to the fact that I was completely satisfied after eating them, and as I would typically order a kebab, or garlic roasted chicken, this just blew my mind. I was transformed, and my eyes widened as I knew now how great Middle Eastern food was. It was my turn to have my wife experience that same feeling I had so many years ago. As this was her first time eating falafel, she was hooked, and I am certain you will be as well after making this falafel recipe.
Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]
- 1 lb dried chick peas (garbanzo beans), soaked in cool water overnight
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 6 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Canola oil
- Pita bread, warmed
- Tahini Sauce (see below)
- Tzatziki Sauce
- Cucumber, thinly sliced
- Mixed greens
- Tomato, thinly sliced
- Red onion, thinly sliced
- Hot pickled peppers, optional
Tahini Sauce Recipe:
- 1/2 cup of tahini
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp Greek plain yogurt
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Pinch of fresh parsley
To make the tahini sauce, add everything to a food processor and pulse a handful of times until everything is thoroughly combined. Taste. It should have this great lemon and garlic with sesame flavor. If it is too thick for you, add a couple tablespoons of warm water and stir.
Now, onto the falafel.
After the chick peas have soaked overnight, drain them and give them a good rinse. It is important to use dry, not canned. Add the onion, garlic, and chopped cilantro and parsley to a food processor, and pulse down. Add in the seasonings and the chick peas. Pulse until everything is well combined but not a mush. You want some texture.
Remove the mixture into a large bowl, and then add in the flour and baking powder. Mix with a wooden spoon, making sure the flour and baking powder are well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, no longer than four hours.
After the two hours, add about two inches of the canola oil to your cooking pot. Bring this up to about 350 degrees.
Begin forming your falafel. I like to to use two spoons, using one to grab enough falafel mixture, then begin using the spoons to form into quenelle shapes, much like a football might appear. If you want to make round, small meatball shapes, go ahead. Once the oil is heated, carefully drop the falafel into the oil and cook them for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them onto a plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle with just a bit of salt.
Repeat. This will make about 30 falafel, depending on your shape and size.
When you are ready to serve, warm some pita bread, making a slot into the pita. Generously spread the tahini sauce on both of the interior sides of the pita. Load in some mixed greens, cucumber, red onion, and tomato. Add in two or three of your falafel, and top that with some of the tzatziki sauce.
Every bite yields nothing but pure satisfaction. You get the best of the garden, along with some very nutritious beans and herbs, as well as some great sauces that you will probably want to use again and again.
You can serve these immediately, or eat them at room temperature. They are also great reheated in the oven, and can be stored in the freezer for a quick reheat later in the week.
P.S. You could bake these as well. If you go that route, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and add the falafel to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for about 15 minutes per side.