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 But despite its strong connection with Israel, falafel actually originates from Egypt and was originally made from fava beans.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
- 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.
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)
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.
(makes 1 cup)
1/2 cup tahini
1 tablespoon soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of Kosher salt
Combine all the ingredients with 1/2 cup water in blender or processor. Process until smooth.