Falafel - © radiogastronomy.com

Classic Dishes: Falafel

As Latkes are to Jewish traditional cuisine, so Falafel is to Egyptian and Middle Eastern cuisine. These all-purpose nuggets of Garlicy, Peppery goodness are now found the world over as ambassadors for their founding culture. And, if you’re Vegetarian, they’ll fit right into your diet!

Falafel Plate - © cookdiary.netClassic Falafel Sandwiches – Falafel Patties with lettuce Tomato and other veggies in a Pita Pocket. Drizzle with Hummus, Tahini or other Middle Eastern Sauces, per your taste!

The Falafel is ancient. The most reliable sources say it originated with Coptic (Christian) Egyptian culture, then spread quickly across that country and throughout the Middle East. It’s a natural: Ground Chick Peas, Onions, Garlic and Parsley. Add a little Salt and Pepper, some Middle Eastern Spices and a shot of the hot – Red Pepper Flakes, for preference – and you’ve got it…

What you need…

2 cups / 500 ml Chick Peas/Garbanzo Beans
1 medium Sweet Onion diced fine
1/3 cup / 40 ml fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1/3 cup / 40 ml fresh Cilantro, chopped fine
4-6 cloves Garlic, chopped fine or pressed
2-3 tbsp. / 30-45 ml Flour
2 tsp. / 10 ml Salt
1 generous pinch ground Pepper
1 tsp. / 5 ml ground Cumin (or more, to taste)
1 tsp. / 5 ml ground Coriander
1 tsp. / 5 ml Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp. / 5 ml Baking Powder
2-3 tbsp. / 30-45 ml Vegetable Oil (for frying), Canola, Grapeseed, Peanut are all good.

What you do…

It’s okay to use canned Chick Peas, in spite of what some Levantine recipe-whackers will tell you. Just adjust your flour content in the final ‘grind’ to make a suitable dough.

Toss everything but the Baking Powder and Flour into your food processor and whiz on low-med speed until the ingredients are all incorporated with the Peas and the Peas are finely chopped but not pasty or gummy. Definitely do not purée! You can taste the raw dough for flavour and seasoning. Now is the time to make any adjustments you want to make.

Now, add the Baking Powder and about half of the Flour and pulse at the same speed as above. Add flour until the mixture can be rolled into a cohesive ball but does not stick to your fingers. Cover the Dough with plastic in a glass or steel bowl and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight. I make the dough in the morning to cook and consume at supper the same day.

Scoop out 1 oz. / 25 ml (golf ball-sized) clumps of Dough and roll into balls. Fry in a deep fryer until golden brown. You can also shallow-fry them in a deep, straight-sided pan in just 1/2 in. / 2 cm or so of Oil. For variety, you can also form the Dough into small patties and shallow-fry or pan-fry. Patties work better when  you’re planning to make your Falafel the star, stuffing it into Pita pockets.

How you eat them…

Serve your Falafel fresh and hot, with Hummous and Tahino Sauces for dipping and topping and a nice Tabouleh Salad on the side! Falafel are also great for snacks, cold from the fridge or microwaved for a few seconds, with the usual dipping Sauces. I also like to do a fusion thing with hot Asian Peanut Sauce in place of Tahini.

You’ll soon be making these little gems regularly and experimenting with your own ancillary flavours…

~ Maggie J.