Homemade Falafel Recipe
This all began one Friday night while I was wasting my evening on Twitter. The ever-entertaining @erinscafe was attempting to make homemade falafel with limited success. Before I knew it, I was offering unsolicited advice to strangers via the Internet. Mind you, I had never made falafel, yet I still offered advice. People, this is what the Internet is there for.
This got me to thinking: how hard can it be? I need to try this.
There are two fairly significant obstacles to making falafel. The first is finding a source for dried chickpeas. Hey, you think, my supermarket has an extensive bulk foods section. Surely they’ll have chickpeas. This would be your first error. You’ll go to the store, scan the bins and discover that you can get black beans, pinto beans, 11 kinds of rice and 342 choices of chocolate covered fruits, nuts, crackers and who knows what else. Where did I finally find the chickpeas? Sprouts. There. I saved you the trouble. Also: don’t substitute canned for dried in this recipe. I’ve read a few disclaimers that say that canned give too mushy a texture, something closer to hummus than falafel.
The second obstacle is parsley. You know, the curly kind of parsley. The little green garnish that they throw on your plate at a diner to try to class things up a bit. I went to multiple supermarkets trying to find the parsley. I finally even went so far as to ask Helpful Produce Department Guy if they had some that I was missing. “We have cilantro,” he said. Umm, ok, but cilantro isn’t parsley. “Eh, just use cilantro. No one will know the difference.” Well, if I’m going to use a completely unrelated flavor, I’m going to use the oregano or rosemary in my herb garden and not pay $2 for your unrelated cilantro, sir.
And then there’s the recipe. The basics are roughly the same: chickpeas, onions, garlic, parsley, flour, cumin, salt and pepper. Then there are the thousands of variations on that theme. Cardamom! Coriander! Cayenne! Turmeric! More garlic! Less garlic! Leeks! Shallots! Baking soda! By the time I had read all of the recipes, I was fairly convinced that this was going to be a bad idea. But by that time I’d already found the chickpeas and parsley; there was no going back.
Shall we begin with Operation Falafel?
Note: The falafel mix needs to rest a minimum of two hours before cooking.
- 2 cups dried chickpeas (garbanzos), soaked overnight
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 2 tsp cumin
- Oil for frying (canola, peanut, etc.)
Combine everything in the bowl of your food processor and blend until the mixture takes on a texture that I’ve seen described as “like couscous.” You don’t want to overpuree. The finished product appears light and fluffy, yet it’s able to stick together. These things seem contradictory, and yet I’ve seen them happen with my own eyes.
Once you reach the desired consistency, store the mixture in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Go play with the kiddo.
And we’re back! Now, heat about 3/4 inch (roughly 2 cm) of oil in a pan. Be careful to keep it hot, but not so hot that it’s smoking. I found that the ideal temperature was about 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Form the falafel mix into flat meatball-shaped blobs. They will look like they’re ready to fall apart at any moment. Strangely, none did. I can’t explain it.
Gently lower your flat meatballs into the oil. Cook for approximately 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and serve with tahini sauce or tzatziki. I served ours in pitas with a homemade tzatziki and cucumber slices in an effort to curry favor with the Tiny Kitchen Assistant.
“I don’t really understand what this is,” said The Assistant, “but I kind of like it and I’m giving it two thumbs up anyway, even without meat.
The Husband is taking the leftovers to share at work.
I’d say that I’ve scored big on both fronts!