Mediterranean Mysteries: Felafel

Here’s a dish no Lebanese family would be caught without at a festive supper table. Felafel is a really simple, really tasty and  – if you dare to ‘think outside the fritter’ – an infinitely customizeable side that can elevate any meal from ‘same-old’ to ‘special’! And, in it’s most basic form, it’s vegan!

Falafel Pita Pockets - © stonefire.comClassic Felafel Pita Pockets: With Tomato, Lettuce, Pickle and Red Onion salad!

Yoo’ve all seen them on the menu at the local Shawarma shop. Those golden brown, mysterious bally-things that show up almost religiously on every combo plate and even in some sandwiches and wraps. But they deserve a lot more attention than most non-Middle-Easterners give them!

A Felafel is, basically, a deep-fried ball or flat patty of Chick Pea (Garbonzo Bean) or Fava Bean Paste, which can serve many functions on your feast table, from sandwich filler, to appetizers, to salad accompaniment to simply being your starch for a composed plate meal, drizzled with sauce or a suitable pickle relish. And, once you know how to make basic Felafel, you’ll be able to experiment with additions and enhancements to develop a family recipe that everyone will swoon over.

As we hinted, earlier, the secret is that most folks see these treats and assume they’re hard to make. You and I know they’re dead easy!

The easiest way to make Felafel dough is in your food processor. In the processor bowl place the following:

  • 1 can Fava Beans or Chick Peas, drained
  • 1 medium Onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 nice handful of Fresh Parsley, lower stems removed
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 2-3 medium cloves Garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • A generous seasoning of Salt and Pepper – remember this is a dish composed mainly of peas/beans and flour!
  • Some every-day Olive Oil, to loosen up the dough if it is too tight after buzzing the above ingredients together thoroughly. If the dough is too loose, just add another tablespoon of flour.

Form into round balls about the size of a golf ball or small patties no more than half an inch (2 cm) thick – patties recommended if you don’t deep fry. Pan fry patties in 1/4 in. / 1 cm of Canola or other high-temperature oil.

Serve hot!

Here’s a mind-expanding exercise… If you’ve ever enjoyed those wonderful Indian fritters called Pakoras, you’ll know that there’s no limit to what you can add to a Felafel!

Go for it! Think outside the fritter!

~ Maggie J.