Being a die-hard meat eater it should be no surprise that I’m fundamentally apposed to the vegetarian lifestyle, particularly when it is applied to my life. It is unusual to find my dinner table lacking a meat, starch, and some kind of vegetable. (It’s just the way I was raised.) However, when it comes to Falafel, the carnivore within gets caged so I can indulge in an evening full of crunchy nuggets of delectable vegetarian goodness.
The Falafel usually consists of ground chick-peas or fava beans, seasoned with Middle Eastern/North African spices, fresh herbs, and then deep fried. The historical roots can be traced back to Coptic Christians in Egypt who were seeking a replacement for meat during Lent. It has also become known as “the Israeli Hot Dog,” the quintessential street food of Israel. When fried to a golden brown, placed inside a pita, and covered in chili paste and yogurt sauce, falafel becomes the best of Middle Eastern street food you can find and a favorite meal in my house.
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt (more to taste)
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill or cilantro or parsley (depending on personal taste. I like either dill or cilantro)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 1/2 cups of cooked chick-peas (I like to get dried chick-peas and let them soak in a bowl of water overnight or for 24hours. This adds a crunchiness you can’t get from a canned.)
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (more to taste)
- 1 tsp ground coriander (more to taste)
- 1 tsp ground cumin (more to taste)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional for a little kick)
- 1/4 tsp salt (more to taste)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Red onion and parsley salad. (thinly slice red onions and chop parsley, add together with demon juice and some salt/pepper. Allow to sit for a little while for lemon juice to bring it all together.)
- Chili sauce
Once your chick-peas have been soaked overnight, make sure all the skins are removed and blend with the food processor. If you choose to use canned chick-peas you will need to drain them before putting then in the food processor. Don’t over blend. You’re not looking for paste. Add onions, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and baking powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Blend again to incorporate all ingredients, stopping just before it becomes pasty. I like my falafel crunchier so I don’t blend as much as some might. Let it rest 15-30 minutes.
After mixture has rested it is time to form into balls. I use a sorbet scoop but you can use anything you like. Make balls about the size of a golf ball but shaped more like an egg. I find that if the falafel balls are too “round” they don’t fit into a pita as well. Heat oil to 350° and fry to a golden brown. Let rest on a wire rack. I use a small Fry Daddy but you can just use a pot with oil.
For the yogurt sauce, combine all ingredients and let sit. The cumin needs a little bit of time to be incorporated into the yogurt so you may want to make this and put it into the refrigerator before you start the falafel. When everything is finished, take some chili sauce, the falafel balls, some lettuce and tomatoes, the yogurt sauce, and place in a pita. Then enjoy!Adapted From: Around The World In 350 Recipes. Edited by Sarah Ainley. London: Hermes House, 2005