Pictures by David Everett
A meal, an appetizer, a snack, a sandwich… these little nibblers are versatile and delicious. Falafel is a ball or patty made from ground chickpeas that is fried in oil; it is a popular food eaten all throughout the Middle East. Take a bite out of the crunchy outer shell and you find a warm, flavorful center. The texture is almost fluffy, a somewhat bread-like consistency. Paired with a nutty tahini sauce, this meal is one you don’t want to miss.
Before tonight, I had never had falafel before. If you’re in the same boat as me, that needs to change right now! I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but all I ever heard people say about falafel is how delicious it is. So that’s good, right? Nothing to be scared of there. But that’s also a big expectation to live up to! I’m happy to say that this falafel recipe did not disappoint; David and his friend (who also went to the Middle East) even said it tasted pretty authentic! If that doesn’t make you excited to start cooking, I don’t know what will!
The first step is to let 1lb of dry garbanzo beans (chickpeas) soak overnight, for at least 8 hours. Make sure you have plenty of water in with your beans – they will double in size.
Next, drain and rinse the beans before grinding them in a blender or food processor. I did mine little by little, making a smooth paste. After grinding the last bit, add in the onions, garlic, parsley, and spices. Blend to combine.
Dissolve 1tsp of baking soda in 1/2 c water and add to the mixture in the blender.
Combine the seasoned chickpea paste with the rest, and mix everything together in a large bowl.
Form little balls out of the chickpea paste. The size is really up to you! Mine were a little smaller than a golf ball.
Prepare your oil. You can test to see whether it is hot enough by dropping in a pinch of the chickpea paste. If it sinks, pops back up to the top and sizzles, you know the oil is ready! Gently place your falafel balls into the pan; do not crowd them. They should only take about 4-6 minutes to cook. I stirred mine occasionally to ensure they were cooking evenly on all sides.
When the falafel is a dark golden color, remove them from the pan and let them drain on a plate with some paper towels. Continue cooking the falafel until all the paste has been used.
To serve, fill half a pita with chopped lettuce, tomato, and a few falafel balls. You could even add some tahini sauce (see recipe), if you so desire! Or, just forget the sandwich and eat them on their own! Nooshe jaan!
Falafel (Makes about 35 balls)
– 1 lb garbanzo beans
– 3 garlic cloves, crushed
– 1 large onion
– 1/3 c fresh parsley, chopped
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1/2 c water
canola oil for frying
1. Soak garbanzo beans overnight, for at least 8 hours.
2. Drain and rinse beans. Use blender or food processor to grind into a mostly-smooth paste.
3. Reserve a little of the paste in the blender or food processor. Add in the parsley, onion, garlic, and spices. Blend until fully combined.
4. Dissolve 1tsp baking soda in 1/2c water. Add to paste and blend together.
5. Add the seasoned garbanzo paste to the rest, mix well.
6. Form little balls out of the paste… approximately 2tbsp per ball.
7. Fill a pan with about 3 inches of oil. Test with a pinch of garbanzo paste… if it drops to the bottom, rises to the top and sizzles, the oil is hot enough.
8. Gently place some falafel balls in the pan and fry for 4-6 minutes, until a dark golden color on all sides. Stir around occasionally to ensure they are cooking evenly.
9. Remove from pan and let drain on a plate with paper towels. Continue frying the falafel until all the paste has been used.
10. Serve individually with tahini sauce or stuff in a pita with tahini, lettuce, and tomato for a hot, tasty sandwich!
– Falafel Recipe Request