Ah, falafel, one of the Arabic cultures’ most ubiquitous foods. Various groups try to take ownership, and there are plenty of varieties, but all signs point to it’s origins in the Egyptian ta’miyya, which is made with fava beans, and probably dates to the 16th or 17th century.
This version borrows some from those roots, being rich with cilantro and flat parsley, which I think rounds things out nicely. Anyway, Kat had no complaints and we ended up eating them three days straight, rather than freezing the leftovers. Pictured on a bed of rice, Persian cucumbers, and topped with a mint sauce and a lil’ sriracha for a kick.
Prep time: 3 hours (1 hour active)
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 pound chickpeas (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1/2 bunch flat (Italian) parsley
- 1 medium onion
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- Black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Baking soda
- Oil (for frying)
To start with, it’s essential that the chickpeas are soaked before using, or you’ll be grinding rocks and everything will be wrong. 24 hours is the universally accepted amount, as too much less will leave the chickpeas grainy feeling, which is not fun.
Now, on cooking day you’ll notice there’s some gunk floating in the chickpeas bowl. To get rid of the yuckies, dump the chickpeas into a colander and set aside for a minute or two.
Next, coarsely chop the garlic, onions, cilantro, and parsley, and put in a separate bowl. To this, add:
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/8 tsp cayenne (or to preference)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp flour
Mix all this together, and then add the chickpeas and mix again to get all the stuff incorporated evenly.
And, it’s time to make the “dough”. If you have a food grinder (for a KitchenAid for example), the process is simple. Use the smallest die and just feed the hopper. If you’re using a food processor, it’s a bit trickier ~ do it in batches and try to get the consistency of prepared oatmeal, and give a good mix when you’re done to even out the texture as much as possible. Either way, what you should have is slightly moist and hopefully fluffy.If it’s wet, add another tablespoon of flour and mix that in.
Next, put the bowl in the fridge and… wait. 45 minutes to an hour to make sure it’s all chilled.
Finally, it’s time to form the falafel. First, put a layer of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Now, there are dies out there that will give you a perfectly round, flat disc, but grandma probably scooped out a spoonful and formed a roughly round thing in her hand maybe in inch-and-a-half across. I happen to like the irregularity, as well as I prefer them on the larger (and thicker) side like the local restaurants do. So form the falafel and put it on the parchment paper, flattening it a bit in the process.
And… put the falafel in the fridge again. Perhaps 20-30 minutes to make sure they’re chilled all the way down. This will help them keep their form better when it’s time to cook.
Cooking-wise, frying is the traditional method, and will produce that nice shell. In a pan, add oil to about 1/2 the thickness of the falafels, and heat to 375F or so. I start the oil at around medium on the burner and use my Javelin instant read thermometer to monitor. It’s a balance ~ too high and the outside will get crunchy before the insides are cooked thru. Too low, and oily balls, which no one wants. TWSS. Fry 4-5 minutes until golden brown, flip, fry for another 4-5 minutes. I check the core temperature with the thermometer and ~120F+ means the insides are cooked.
For serving, wraps, pita sandwiches, and salads are the most common; lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, or any combination, along with tahini sauce or something like a cucumber-mint sauce (in this instance I omitted the cucumber from the sauce as it’s in the salad)