Cooking

Falafel Friday

Homemade Falafel Recipe

Like two falafel in a pita.

Like two falafel in a pita.

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.

Ahem.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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.)
Fluffy but moldable. I still can't believe that you can achieve both at once.

Fluffy but moldable. I still can’t believe that you can achieve both at once.

Instructions

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.

(time lapse)

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.

There's no getting around it: frying is labor intensive and slow going. Save it for weekends.

There’s no getting around it: frying is labor intensive and slow going. Save it for weekends.

Results

“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!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Search by Category
Looking for something specific?

2 Responses

  1. Lori says:

    I’ve been wanting to make falafel for ages and now I finally have a food processor! I’m pretty sure dried chickpeas aren’t going to be available here, so I guess we’ll just have to deal with whatever the canned ones do to it. And I can use some of my five packs of plain Greek yogurt to make tzatziki! (Thank you for including that bit in the recipe so I didn’t have to Google for spelling like usual.)
    Also thank you for including the bit about it needing to rest for two hours. I somehow missed that in a recipe I planned to make the other night, which is how we ended up eating leftovers instead, because otherwise we would have been eating around 9:00.

  2. Alisa says:

    Oh, I should also mention that in our kid-friendly household, the tzatziki is garlic and spice-free. I just use a cup of whole fat yogurt, a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, some diced cucumber and a pinch of salt. And yes, I deliberately use full fat yogurt because it has a lot more flavor, and when you’re not doctoring it up, that flavor becomes pretty important.

    Hmm, can I ship you dried chickpeas? Or is that a customs violation?

Leave a Reply