Tuesday, July 14, 2009


In Portland, we don't really have a sizable Middle Eastern, Jewish, or student population, which makes getting quality falafel fairly difficult. But even if you live in a city more worldly/academic than ours, this recipe is still worth trying at home. It's got several things going for it:

1. It's delicious, and the dried favas give it an authentic taste (or so my more worldly friends have told me)
2. Like all meals based on dried beans, it's pretty cheap
3. Leftovers freeze and reheat wonderfully (just crisp the balls in the toaster)
4. If you're not insane like me and committed to making your own pita bread, it's actually a pretty easy meal. The balls involve grinding and frying, and the rest is just chopping.

This recipe makes a large amount, but I always make the full portion. The balls can be fried all at once, and then you can freeze the overage (this will take some time, but make subsequent meals super easy). Or, if you don't fancy a long stint in front of hot oil, you can also freeze the raw falafel dough, and thaw and fry up another time.

adapted from ChefCrash on egullet
makes enough for 10 servings

For the Balls:
2 cups dried chickpeas
1 cup dried split fava beans (find at a Middle Eastern/import store - substitute more chickpeas if you can't)
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parsley
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp salt
dash cayenne
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
oil for frying

For the Meal (pita and tahini sauce required, the rest can vary depending on what you have on hand):
pita bread (I've also used Lavash flatbreads, for a wrapped sandwich)
tahini sauce
hot sauce (like a Tabasco or Tapatio)
chopped cabbage or romaine lettuce
chopped parsley
sliced pickles
sliced cucumbers
pickled turnips (more on these another time)
sliced onion
chopped tomatoes

Soak the dried beans overnight, in the refrigerator if the weather's warm. I've been known to leave them there several days, to no ill effect, but about 8 hours is your minimum. Drain them, and grind with all remaining ingredients (except the oil) in a food processor. This recipe doesn't get too pasty, so you can go for a fairly fine grind (but not a smooth puree -- you still want to see bits).

To fry, bring at least an inch of oil up to a medium high heat. Once a pinch of the falafel mix starts sizzling rapidly when you drop it in, you're ready. shape the falafel into patties -- I think there's actually a tool for this purpose, but I use an oiled 1/4 measuring cup, packed about 4/5 full. If they don't stay together, add a bit more water to the mixture -- I'm usually alright with just the residual water clinging to the beans, but sometimes need more. Better to add too little water than too much. Fry the patties in the oil, turning once the bottom side is lightly browned. The time can vary depending on the heat of the oil -- about 5-7 minutes. Flip, and brown the other side. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon, and repeat until you've fried as many as you like. Add more oil if the level drops to where it no longer covers the falafel at least halfway. If you don't fancy sitting in front of the stove while your friends eat, you can pre-fry all of your patties, and then throw them in an oven or toaster until they sizzle again.

To assemble, grab half a pita bread. break a few falafel balls in half, and stuff them in the bottom. Top with any of the vegetables you desire, douse liberally with tahini sauce, and a few dashes of hot sauce. Enjoy the hot/cool/salty/tangy deliciousness. Repeat as needed.


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