I’ve been on a Middle-Eastern cuisine kick lately. Having lived a part of my childhood in the Middle-East, I grew up on an amazing array of dishes and street-foods that consisted of Kebabs, Shawarmas, Fatayer, Kibbeh, Murtabak, Shish taouk, Hummus, Tabbouleh and Falafel. Oh how I miss it!! I also realized that I’ve never posted anything from that region here on my blog, so I dug through my repertoire of recipes and came across my mom’s falafel recipe and gave it a whirl.
A Falafel is essentially a deep fried fritter or patty made of ground chickepeas…better known as garbanzo beans here in the States, or fava beans or a combination of both. It is a popular street-food eaten as is or dipped in hummus or a tahini sauce. It’s crunchy on the outside from the deep frying but delicately moist and nutty with refreshing burst of fresh herbs and spices as you bite into them. Mmmmm….
Another popular version of this dish is to stuff falafels in a pita pocket with hummus, a little salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, pickles and tahini sauce drizzled on top and eaten as a wrap. It’s like a veggie burger…but waaaaay better!
Falafels are a great fairly (considering the deep frying) healthy, gluten-free, vegetarian snack that won’t leave you craving any meat at all. Take it from a meatetarian! Make a slightly bigger version of a falafel and you have a great veggie burger patty!
Here’s how you can make it at home…
- 1 cup raw dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp hot paprika
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp lemon zest + juice of half lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Sesame seeds to sprinkle on.
- Vegetable oil to deep fry or 2-3 tbsp olive oil to pan fry
- – Soak 1 cup of raw dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans* (*see note below) overnight in plenty of water (atleast twice or thrice its volume of water). They will double in size as they soak.
- – Drain and rinse the chickpeas (garbanzo beans).Add them to the food processor.
- – Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves, roughly chop a cup of fresh flat leaf parsley and 1/2 a cup of cilantro leaves.
- – Add the garlic, parsley, cilantro, spices (1 tsp corriander powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika), salt (according to taste), 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp lemon zest, the juice of half the lemon and 1 tbsp of olive oil in the food processor along with the chickpeas/garbanzo beans.
- – Pulse the food processor about 8-10 times, shaking it until all the ingredients are well combined and grainy but not completely smooth.
- – Place the mixture in a bowl and using your hands, measure out the mixture to form small balls. I like to go a step further and cupping your hands flatten out the balls into more of a little patty shape. (It’s important to note that the mixture isn’t the easiest to shape and falls apart fairly eaily. You really have to handle it delicately and compress it to make sure there are no cracks and it doesn’t break up when you go to fry them)
- – Place the shaped patties on a non-stick or lightly greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the falafels lightly with toasted or non-toasted sesame seeds (optional) and gently press them into the patties to make them stick.
- – Now you can cook them either by deep frying in hot vegetable oil for a few minutes until they turn a light golden brown (the traditional way and recommended by me for the best tasting falafels that are crispy on the outside but delicately moist and delicious as you bite into them) or you can add a tablespoon or so to a frying pan and pan sear the patties (I’d recommend flattening them a little more than if you were deep frying them) on both sides to get a crispy top and bottom.
- – Serve hot as is with hummus or tahini sauce for dipping, or you can serve it in a pita as a wrap with hummus, turkish salad, pickles and drizzled with tahini sauce. (See link below on how to make the best falafel pita wraps!)
- Avoid using the canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans as they are pre-cooked and will tend to become a paste when you put it in the food processor rather than get the grainy texture of authentic falafels.