Friday, December 9, 2016

In Love with Falafel

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.


Becky said...

We love falafel - it's been a favorite for years. I will use whatever white beans I have on hand when I make.

Once upon a time, I worked for a woman who's husband owned a pita bakery. He had a tendency to drop by at lunch time with pita fresh from the oven. Needless to say, that spoiled me forever and I've yet to make a pita bread at home that compares.

Polly said...

I should try this. My husband is now vegan so new ideas are always fun for me. I have to say that I don't much like falafel, which I grew up eating, but maybe it will have grown on me after a long break....??

Alica said...

I've never had it, but last spring when my sister and brother in law were in the middle east, they ate it and liked it. Someday I'll have to try it!

Melanie said...

In college, a good friend spent a semester in the Holy Land. She came back in love with the food, and we had a falafel party. The recipe she had from a friend looked odd to me - 5 tsp cayenne to 2 cans chickpeas. She was irritated that I doubted her friend's recipe, so we continued, and of course it was almost inedible! We then looked more closely and realized that 1) her friend had written fractions as decimals, and 2) the email server had deleted all the periods from the whole thing! So it was supposed to be 1/2 teaspoon ;-) We went out, got new ingredients and started again.

We fried that falafel in a pot of oil and while they were tasty, that's never been my style. It never occurred to me that you could make patties and pan fry them! My family loves falafel so I will be making these. Thanks for sharing!

Phoebe is getting so big! My girl is, too, and I can't quite believe how fast she is growing and learning ❤️

sk said...

Do I see black? Did you fry the patties black?

(This is a perfect post. I love your #4.)

Margo said...

sk, I don't remember them tasting burnt, but they sure do look black in the photo! (Thank you for the Christmas love!)

Jean | said...

Margo, I love falafel! But my husband doesn't, so I only make it when he's away! :D

Jean | said...

PS I just tweeted this post, but couldn't find you on Twitter. Maybe you're not on Twitter?

Margo said...

Jean, thanks for the tweet! I'm not on Twitter - just Pinterest and Blogger.

BLD in MT said...

We're big falafel fans at our place! They were one of the foods that convinced me that beans might not be too bad after all. Very versatile, I agree. We used to make a recipe that called for fully cooked beans, but I very much like the texture better if they're just soaked, as you did.

Also, peanut butter on a burger!?! I must try this.