I read somewhere online that falafel is to the Middle East what hamburgers are to the USA. And then I was completely confident to make the version of falafel that sounded good to me, because aren't hamburgers endlessly customizable and creative? Last year I had a restaurant burger that came topped with peanut butter, bacon, cheddar, and jalapenos. It was bizarrely awesome.
I've never been much attracted to falafel and I've never made it until this summer. I think I was looking for a new meatless dinner when I decided to try falafel. . . and fell totally in love. These patties are easy for me because you can make them in stages, serve them at any temperature, and freeze them (making a batch right now to keep on hand for brown-bag lunches).
I have even served them to cautious eaters who liked them. Falafel is tasty!
They are nutritious and relatively cheap and, like a burger, you top them with whatever you have on hand or strikes your fancy. So far, we've been keeping it Middle Eastern with lettuce and pita, and in the summer, tomatoes and cucumbers. I've made a sauce of yogurt, tahini, garlic, and parsley sometimes, too.
Soak 18-24 hours:
1 cup dry chickpeas with water to cover by 3 inches
Drain chickpeas. Place in food processor with:
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup onion or scallions
handful roughly chopped fresh parsley
handful roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. baking powder
a few dashes of cayenne, optional
Process until finely, evenly ground, but do not make into mush or paste. There should be green flecks but no pea-sized chunks of chickpeas. Stir in 4-6 Tbsp. flour - you are aiming for a consistency to squeeze into patties. If you're not sure, stick your hand in it and squeeze a little patty to see. Heat a large frying pan over high heat with a generous pool of oil in it. Make little patties and pan-fry them, turning once, until browned and crispy on both sides. Fry in batches, adding more oil as necessary. Serve hot or room temperature (or snitch, cold, out of the fridge).
1. The soaking chickpeas can absolutely sit longer on the counter if you can't get to them.
2. The ground-up falafel mixture can be refrigerated for several days before frying.
3. Cooked falafel freezes just fine. Apparently people have also frozen uncooked falafel as well, but I haven't experimented with that.
4. Do you like how I didn't even mention the December holiday in this post!? I confine Christmas (I named it!) to the margins of my December life and that's how I stay sane and happy.