Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Homemade Falafel Rules

Hey, if you want good falafel, go to Denmark. Just kidding...but really not. There's actually a robust population of people from Turkey, Greece and the Middle East and it seemed like just about every street in our little city had a falafel/sharwarma joint. My favorite place was just a rinky-dink establishment with 2 tables and 4 chairs and the owner was the cook. We visited at least once a week until one day we popped in and saw it was closed down. No forewarning; nothing! Oh, the disappointment!

Here in Portland, there aren't any falafel stands located close to me so I end up making my own. The first couple of times I tried it, I used Molly Katzen’s recipe from her Moosewood Cookbook. The flavors were fine, but I never liked the texture because it was too mushy. I experimented with a couple of other recipes, one of which was a complete disaster because the patties didn’t hold together. Then I came across this recipe. It's a great recipe, but I felt it needed a little more flavor (1 tsp of salt is not going to cut it for a pound of chickpeas!). After a little tweaking, I finally have something that I’m happy with. Using soaked (but uncooked) chickpeas is the key. It really makes all the difference in the texture.

The thing about falafel is that it needs to be eaten right after it's made. Don't think you can fry up some extras to take to lunch tomorrow, like I did. They turn out pretty sponge-y gross. This recipe can be doubled, if you need to feed more than 4 hungry adults.

Feeds 4 adults
  • ½ pound dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 24 hours
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt (even more to taste)
  • ¼ cup fine bread crumbs (see note below)
  • 3 green onions or ¼ of a large sweet onion, minced
  • ¼ bunch cilantro, minced
  • ¼ bunch parsley, minced
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Oil for deep frying
Note: I like to make my own breadcrumbs using crackers. For this recipe, I like using the sesame water crackers. Pulse the crackers in a food processor until fine.

Drain the soaked beans and put them in a food processor. Run until the beans are finely chopped. You may have to do this in batches, unless you have a huge processor.

In a large bowl, combine the processed beans and all the other ingredients. Mix (easiest to use clean hands) until you get a uniform paste. It may seem a little dry, but have faith! It will hold together. Shape the paste into balls then flatten slightly. The paste will be slightly sticky, but it shouldn’t cake your hands. When the oil is hot enough, deep fry the balls, flipping if they aren’t completely submerged until evenly browned , about 4 minutes. I recommended draining on a rack set over a backing sheet. This allows the oil to drain off more efficiently and it prevents the underside of the food from getting soggy. Serve immediately.

I like to serve it with pita bread or flatbread. The original recipe includes a yogurt sauce you may want to try. Accompanied by a simple salad, it's a filling meal, but it’s also nice to put out hummus, olives and feta, tabouleh, and/or baba ghanoush (eggplant dip).


SteamyKitchen said...

you are my HERO. I love falafel but have never ever even attempted to make it. and I haven't had a good falafel in years.

Deborah said...

i've only had falafel once, but have never tried to make it. I just might have to now!

dp said...

Everyone should try to make these at least once! It's really not hard and tastes so much better than the store-bought mix.


Anonymous said...

i just made falafel last week, but didn't discover that i was out of fresh cilantro until i was mid-process, so they didn't have the flavor i's been shooting for. thanks for reminding me that i'd wanted to try again!

also, even my not-quite-properly-seasoned falafel was light years better than a mix.

test it comm said...

That looks good. I have been wanting to try making falafels for a while.

tigerfish said...

Double it up again for me ALONE!
I'm hungry.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I ate Middle Eastern food this week too. Not falafel though but now you've got me craving them.

Anonymous said...

I love homemade falafel especially with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, and when in season, tomatoes. Nice picture.