Seriously Real Falafel
August 11, 2011 § 3 Comments
E: So, as the title should tell you, this falafel is seriously real! Now, I’m no authority on falafel authenticity, but this is by far the best I have had anywhere. The recipe is also pretty easy, so this should be a short post about a quick meal. For those of you that aren’t really familiar with falafel, it basically consists of fried chickpea patties with herbs, spices, and, at least in this case, some onion. They really aren’t that bad for you (the only unhealthy stuff comes from the oil you fry them in), though I wouldn’t call them an out-and-out health food. But what they are is certainly warm and comforting. So let us take you on a journey about how to create some seriously good falafel!
Interspersed with the recipe will be some instructions for a simple yogurt sauce (tzatziki) to tap into the Mediterranean flavors going on here. A note before we begin: you can make these with canned chickpeas, but you really don’t want to. They have too much liquid in them and are too soft, so you end up with patties that don’t hold together. Dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 8 to 24 hours are the secret for the texture of these. If you must use canned, consider adding an egg to the recipe to keep them together as patties.
Ingredients: (recipe from the still-defunct DeliciousWisdom)
1 C. dried chickpeas, soaked in 4 C. water for 8 to 24 hours and drained
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
For the yogurt sauce:
1 C. plain greek yogurt (whole, 2%, 0%, it’s all good)
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/4 C. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
(optional: 1/2 tsp garam masala powder)
So start by putting your chickpeas in a bowl with 4 cups water, and soaking them. Overnight is best, but we started these in the morning and they were just fine by dinner time.
Drain the chickpeas and add them to a large bowl. Chop up the onion, garlic and parsley and add them to the same bowl. Toss in the salt and spices as well.
Mix things together roughly, then get out an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a food processor and work in batches if necessary. If you don’t have that, I have been successful using a blender, but I’ve sometimes had to add a little water to get things to move around. It is generally difficult and annoying, so use another tool if you have one. If you are using an immersion blender, it can be useful to do this in the sink in case it sprays.
Blend everything together until it is a greenish-yellow paste, and most of the chunks have been eliminated. A few don’t matter, but it should be mostly smooth. Heat up some olive oil in a non-stick skillet, and start adding balls of falafel. I use medium heat, and let them go for 2-3 minutes a side, or until brown. Cook on both sides until they are nice and crispy.
Take those out and set on a paper towel to let some of the oil drain off.
For the yogurt sauce, if you are lucky enough to have two of you, you can have one person work on it while the other is doing the falafel. Otherwise you can prepare it beforehand. This is super easy. Just empty the yogurt container into a mixing bowl. Peel and slice in half one cucumber. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, and then dice the flesh. Add in some chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and some other spices if the mood takes you. Mix it all together and place it in the fridge until you need it. It can keep for a few days, but I’d not make it earlier than the night before.
Serve the falafel patties on a bed of salad or in a wrap or pita, with the yogurt sauce and some other toppings. I suggest cheese, hot sauce, pesto, tomato, lettuce, onion, julienned carrots, cucumbers, hummus, tabbouleh, or even boursin cheese spread. (Those of you who went to a certain dining hall at a certain university may recognize where I got the idea for some of the more eccentric options, including the boursin.) Basically, go wild and try different things. I’d resist the common restaurant temptation of filling the wrap with lettuce, because there are so many tastier options than a big hunk of romaine, as much as I like lettuce in salads and elsewhere.