For a brief time in college, and intermittently throughout my adult years, I have been a vegetarian or a vegan, ovo-lacto or raw foodie (for about 2 hours). Ultimately I just like meat a little too much to ever let it go, and as we eat sustainable and local meat for the most part I don’t feel too bad about it. However, during my first brief stint as a vegetarian I discovered what I consider to be the ultimate veggie burger; the falafel (or is it falafels?).
What is it about the falafel? It is the crunchy exterior, it’s satisfying crunch followed closely by a meltingly soft interior with spices you can’t quite place? Is it the magical blend of chickpeas and tahini sauce in a pita, perhaps with some hot sauce and tabbouleh? Is it that it is the ultimate street food, versatile and filling and the perfect sandwich for a fall day? Is it just that it’s fried?
Whatever the reason, I am a falafel convert, a falafel connoisseur, a falafel addict. I eat it whenever i can find it and when I do I generally eat so much that I feel as if I have become a little falafel ball myself, rolling away down the street.
I am fortunate enough that I have a spouse who did not quite realize that falafel is REALLY hard to make and can be very time consuming and discouraging and can make one prone to fits of rage, chickpeas flying. Traditional falafel is made with chickpeas and spices, it is then rolled into balls and fried and served in pita bread with its many accompaniments. While this sounds simple enough it can be very difficult to get the “dough” to be the right consistency so that the falafel comes out moist but doesn’t fall apart.
Of course Jaime did it perfectly.
The recipe she used is modified from the joy of cooking. We soaked our chickpeas in water for two days and didn’t cook them, which may have been a good thing as these falafel had the greatest texture; very crunchy on the outside and bursting with a smooth flavor..totally addictive.
1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
Process the above ingredients in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Remove from the bowl and add in a couple more tablespoons flour. In a deep skillet pour 1/2 inch canola oil and heat over medium-high heat. Form the mixture into balls using wet hands and fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
Warm up some pita bread, slice a nice head of romaine into shreds and slice a fresh tomato if you have one. To assemble spread about a tablespoon of the sauce on a pita, place about three or four falafel balls on it, and top with lettuce, tomato and more sauce. Fold over and eat.