Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Originally from Egypt, falafel is a Middle Eastern dish made from chickpeas or fava beans. It can be served with pita bread, stuffed inside the pocket, or eaten alone as a snack. This recipe produces beautiful and tasty falafel balls, crispy golden brown on the outside with a vibrant pistachio-color inside. Be sure to use a thermometer to help you keep an eye on the temperature of the cooking oil. Remember that the temperature will drop when you add the falafel, so you may need to adjust your burner a few times to maintain 350 degrees.

First-Rate Falafel, A Mighty Appetite

2 cups dried chickpeas (option: substitute fava beans or use a mixture of both)
6-8 scallions, minced, or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup fresh cilantro or parsley (or ½ cup each), chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for deep frying (recommend grapeseed, peanut, or safflower oil)

Cover chickpeas in water and soak for 24 hours. Drain and set aside. Using a food processor, pulverize chickpeas, but only until they form a paste—too smooth, and the batter may fall apart when cooking. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the oil) and mix to combine. Batter should be grainy, speckled with herbs, and a shade of pistachio green. Taste for salt.

Refrigerate batter about one hour, until firm.

Remove from fridge and shape batter into 1-inch balls (a tablespoon measure is helpful). Don’t fiddle too much with dough. Place on a baking tray and cover with plastic wrap. Return to fridge and chill for an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce (see notes below).

When ready to fry, heat at least one inch of oil (you will use just shy of one quart) over medium heat until bubbling, about 350 degrees. Gently drop patties into hot oil in small batches and fry until golden brown on all sides, about three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels for draining. Keep warm in a low-heat oven while frying remaining patties. Serve with pita and tahini sauce and any or all relishes/condiments including raw onions, cucumber, chopped parsley and tomato. Makes 24-28 falafel patties.

Tahini Sauce
In a medium bowl or a food processor, mix together the following:
1 cup tahini paste, stirred well before using
¼ to ½ cup lemon juice
1 to 2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
½ cup plain yogurt or water

Blend until smooth; add extra water to make a pourable sauce. Keeps in fridge for a few days. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

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