3.29.2011

Michael Schwartz's Falafel Balls with Tahini Sauce


I've already introduced you to Michael in a previous post. This is the second recipe I've made from his new cookbook. (For more details about the cookbook and Michael's restaurant, go HERE.)

Today I'm all about falafel: the fish and chips of the Mediterranean, the tapas of the Middle East. If Israel has adopted a national food, falafel is it. But despite its strong connection with Israel, falafel actually originates from Egypt and was originally made from fava beans. Its roots can be traced right back to the Christian Copts of Egypt who were forbidden from eating meat during certain holidays and came up with a falafel-like alternative. Lebanese falafel often uses a combination of fava beans and chickpeas, while in Egypt, it is traditional to use just fava beans. I've only eaten falafel made with chickpeas. If you're interested in more history, I found a wonderful article about chickpeas HERE.

History aside, I've got to be absolutely the last blogger to make falafel. I've read about it, eaten it, but for some reason have never made it at home. I have several recipes saved but once I read Michael's cookbook, I decided on his rendition. And I had my share of problems (see Bench Notes) but I am nothing if not determined! And I was finally successful. They were fabulous. We loved the flavors and the crispness and when dipped in the tahini sauce they were a marvelous mouthful. Now that I have the hang of it, I'll make these again and again.


Falafel with Tahini Sauce

Adapted from Michaels' Genuine Food by Michael Schwartz




Bench Notes:

  • I noticed Michael's recipe did not have any flour. Hmmmm. I'd rarely seen a falafel recipe without a little flour, bread crumbs or some sort of binder. I was doubtful, but I tried a small batch that way and they disintegrated immediately in the hot oil.  I tried again, pressing very firmly on the falafel ball, as the recipe mentions the balls must be pressed tight or they will fall apart. No dice. Raised the temperature of the oil. That didn't work either. So, as to not waste my remaining ingredients, I cheated and added a little flour and had no further problems. Please note in recipe below I included the correct amount of flour I used. Sorry, Michael, but I'm going to use a little flour when I make them from now on.
  • Also: use the dried garbanzos as called for. Not canned. Just not the same.
  • And...make certain the temperature of the oil remains between 350 and 375. (Michael suggested 350; I increased it to 375.) I ended up cooking only 3 or 4 falafels at a time and the temperature stayed constant that way.


Ingredients:
2 cups dried chickpeas. picked through and rinsed
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leafed parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons flour (I added this)
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
canola oil for frying
Tahini Sauce (recipe follows)

Method:
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 inches. Soak overnight. They will double in size. 
Drain and rinse thoroughly. (I think you should make certain the chickpeas are very dry at this point. It may have been one of my problems. See Bench Notes. Some of you who make falafel on a regular basis might have some other suggestions.)
Put the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until the consistancy of cornmeal. Remove and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro and mint to the processor along with a couple tablespoons of the chickpeas. Pulse until pureed. Add to the remaining chickpeas along with the cumin, coriander, baking powder, flour, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
You may refrigerate, covered, at this point for up to 3 days.

Heat about 3 inches of the oil to 375 in an electric fryer or deep pot.
In the meantime, make golf-sized balls with the falafel mixture, squeezing tightly so they don't fall apart while cooking. (See Bench Notes) Place a few falafels in the oil at a time, moving them around so brown evenly and don't stick. Fry until crusty brown on all sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes; remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Makes about 2 dozen falafels.


Tahini Sauce
(makes  1 cup)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup tahini
1 tablespoon soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of Kosher salt

Method
:

Combine all the ingredients with 1/2 cup water in blender or processor. Process until smooth.

65 comments:

  1. I will admit that I have never tasted falafel, but I do know what they are. I guess the main reason is that I have never been any place where I can buy them. Seems odd with all our traveling, but that is the truth. Have always wondered what they taste like. Perhaps I will try them someday. They do look great.

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  2. Two of my favorite things! those felafel look so good. Perfect vwith tahini sauce.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. I love falafel balls and this look amazing Barbara, my daugther love too (is veggi) I have to dio, xx gloria

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  4. A nice click! And sound wonderful.

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  5. I never met a falafel I didn't like.

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  6. I've only had falafal once at the chain restaurant Garbanzo. Would love to try to make it myself. Thanks for the recipe Barbara.

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  7. I love falafel, but I've never made my own before. This recipe looks/sounds delicious!

    And thank you for the background on falafel! With such a rich history, no wonder it's so good. :)

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  8. I've never made it because I don't fry. Curious about the lack of flour in his recipe...

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  9. I will take your cue and add flour to the mix. These are perfect for my next meal!!

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  10. I made falfel probably twenty years ago, way before blogging. I don't know why I haven't made it since. These look very good though and love tha tahini sauce. I alway have a jar of tahini to add to stir fried noodles with soy sauce and garlic/gingar paste. (a quick go to meal)

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  11. Oh falafel is one of my all time favorite foods, I grew up with the stuff. Beautiful recipe. I'd make them if i wasn't so afraid of deep frying.
    *kisses* HH

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  12. These look amazing! Don't worry, you're only the second-last blogger to make them because I'm trailing behind the rest of you.

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  13. I have yet to try falafel and it looks like I need to change that!

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  14. You might not have been the first to make it but your recipe is one of the best I've seen. This looks wonderful and can't help but be delicious with the ingredients you have used. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  15. What a gorgeous idea for a lovely breakfast, Tahini sauce with the falafel balls look scrumptious!

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  16. These look great, congratulations on your first Falafel making Adventure!

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  17. Living with a vegetarian, I should make falafel more often than I do. I'll follow your lead with the added flour.
    I would like to try them with fava beans, too.

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  18. LOVE IT, this is one thing I want to try for sure.

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  19. Nice falafels. And thank you for the tip about adding the flour. Much appreciated. :)

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  20. Falafels are a big favorite here. Yours looks so fresh and light, just delicious! I haven't had the nerve to make them, this might be the push I needed, they look fantastic.

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  21. I have a two-fold great reason for still not having made falafel in my kitchen: first,my Egyptian friend's Mom makes them the best and second, I love to treat myself to great Lebanese take out ;o)

    Btw...great save on the missing binder Barbara. Sometimes I wonder if it's the cookbook author at fault or the editor that hasn't done their job right. Anyhow, thank goodness for your experience in the kitchen ;o)

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

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  22. These would go over so very well at a party. I could lick the bowl clean of that tahini

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  23. Hi Barbara,

    My husband made falafels, the other night and we had them with lamb.
    I have never made them and will try your recipe, thanks for sharing.

    Hope that you are having a lovely week
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  24. I love falafel. :) Yours is gorgeous and sounds perfect! (that tahini looks great too!)

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  25. I've always wanted to try it!

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  26. Barbara
    I love falafel and this recipe looks great and healthy!! I cooked a lot with Tahini over the weekend.. We had a Thai party. Will add your recipe to my folder!!!
    xxx
    Bunny

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  27. looks great I am yet to make it either thanks for visiting Australia with us hugs Rebecca

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  28. The flavors are so Mediterranean. Tahini is one of my favorite ingredients!

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  29. Marvelous! I miss falafel, and it has been a while since I made it.

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  30. I want this for breakfast! NOW!

    I haven't made falafel! Probably because the ones at our Whole Foods are so good. And because, you know, I'm a lazy slob.

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  31. I'm about to make my own tahini. You've tempted me even more. Those falafel looks amazing. Wish I can have a bite right now. Yummm.... Thanks for sharing such terrific recipe. Hope you're enjoying your day.
    Kristy

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  32. You can see you are NOT the last blogger to make and write about these from the comments here - and I am among those who has never eaten one, or made one and they are definitely on "the list"!!!
    I agree - no comparison between reconstituted dried chick peas and canned ones.
    I have saved this and will use your sage advise and try this recipe. I have always wanted to.
    :)
    YUM

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  33. These look perfect! I haven't made falafel in a couple years, but yours look much better than I remember mind looking. LOVE falafel! :)

    Sues

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  34. The first time I made falafel, I had the same problem. Once I made the balls - I froze them for 30 minutes on a cookie sheet, then just went from freezer to deep fryer - they held together perfectly!

    And now I realize I need to make them again - soon!

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  35. I like how fresh and "green" your falafels look...
    and no worries, you're not the last one: I have yet to make them ;)

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  36. Falafal is what got me hooked on Mediterranean food, but I have never tried to make it myself.

    Guess it's time to give it a whirl!

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  37. I love falafel. When I first came to NYC someone took me to MacDougal for falafel lunch at Mamouns. It's still there and still good with extra hot sauce and parsleyed onions, stuffed in a pita with that lovely tahina... so darn good and cheap too! I've made many recipes since then... it seems most countries have their own versions with more of this and less of that... all good. Yours looks like a great recipe... with flour!

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  38. You are definitely not the last blogger to make falafel, shhhh, don't tell, it's me! Actually, I've only just had it in the last couple of years. A favorite restaurant here serves a great falafel salad that I love. I can't wait to try this at home.

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  39. The home made version is so much better than the stuff that comes in a box. If everyone tried this recipe at home, there would be a whole lot more falafel lovers out there---looks amazing!

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  40. I absolutely adore falafel! I've never had it with anything but chickpeas.

    I haven't seen Michael's book yet but I remember when I was taught how to make falafel, it didn't have flour either. I thought for sure it wouldn't stay together. I think you're right about making sure they are dry. If memory serves me, Yuksel, my Turkish friend, put the chickpeas in the oven to dry them before mixing the rest of the ingredients. I think he may have even ground up some of the chickpeas into a sort of flour as an addition. I'm so sorry Barbara I just can't remember.

    Really, why am I going on. Your falafel looks delicious and I love the addition of soy sauce in the tahini!

    Thank you so much for sharing...That link was GREAT too!!!

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  41. and your falafel tasted wonderful and look glorious! I like to add egg in my falafel batter and of course some fava beans. You are right the Egyptians and Copts are the original makers and inventors and deserve the credit. That being said, I have also been told that Egyptian fava beans are the softest and the tastiest in all the middle east, so maybe that is why in Lebanon people use chick peas.

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  42. Those looks delicious and thank you for including your notes for making the recipe! Also, you are not the last blogger to make falafel - I certainly haven't! Your photos make it looks so delicious - I will definitely have to in the near future - YUM!

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  43. I'm in the "never made falafel" camp! I love to eat them though, and yours definitely look perfectly crisp. A true delight!

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  44. Look at these lovely golden orbs of goodness! You know it's funny but I don't think I've tried fava beans felafel either. I must remedy that! :D

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  45. These look PERFECT! I love falafel and can never get enough tahini sauce in my life.

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  46. I love falafel! I do not make it at home but I don't know why...I need to get on it!

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  47. I was searching for the types of herbs people put in their falafel. These are some great flavor. I will definitely want to try this out.

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  48. Ohhhh.... falafel. Now, this takes me back. I used to work in Pasadena and there was this great Mediterranean restaurant that would serve the most amazing falafel. I think I have to make this just so I don't end up craving it and having to drive over to Pasadena for some!

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  49. mmm....been a while on this for me and that sauce sounds great....

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  50. These look so delicious. I need to learn how to make them

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  51. I like that secret splash of soy sauce in the tahini sauce. I'm sneaking some in whenever I make tahini sauce from now on. ;)

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  52. mmm, i am dying to try falafel, they look so good!

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  53. I love falafel but actually I've never made it at home. This is something 5 Star Foodie Jr. would love.

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  54. Yours look so light and tasty, Barbara. :-) I haven't had falafel in ages and that just isn't right! :-)

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  55. Falafels are so good! I love that you paired it with the tahini sauce. I like covering mine with hummus, which is very similar. Your photos look lovely, too :-)

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  56. I LOVE falafel and I waited way too long to make it also. I made it first about a month ago and still have yet to post it. I did a baked version that was similar. I love your pictures! Thanks!

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  57. I really love falafel but haven't found a recipe that I really adore. I have a feeling that this might be "the one". Thanks for sharing!

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  58. I love falafals - i tried to make them with dry fava beans once, but it wasn't worth the hassle (they need to be peeled one by one once cooked).

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  59. They look truly gorgeos Barbara, it is just the deep frying that puts me off. I am always nervous of deep frying.

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  60. oh these are one of my favorite things to eat! they look perfect!

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  61. i can't believe there was no flour in his recipe! i'm glad you were able to resolve the issue so neatly--a good batch of falafel is hard to beat. :)

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  62. Barbara I have never tried falafel. But if you made it for me, I know I would love it.LOL!
    sending hugs

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  63. I love falafel but have only ever made it once or twice, and I'm sure I cheated by using canned beans. I'll just have to try them again now won't I? With this great recipe. Yum. Thanks for sharing, Barbara.

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  64. Nope - I am the last blogger to make felafel! I love them but I've never made my own.

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