Sold as a street side snack falafel is as common as coca cola in the middle east. Deep fried balls usually made from chickpeas, falafel can be served alone, with fuul or stuffed into a pita with fresh vegetables and salads. In Sudan the falafel or t’amiyya was made of fava beans and was served alone or as an addition to fuul. It was mostly plain in flavor and texture. In Egypt we started to see falafel in pita with some salad and sometimes a tahini based sauce. In Jordan we started seeing falafel topping bars, but it wasn’t until Israel that we had the full on falafel sandwich with chips, sauces, pickles and salads. So its deep friend, but actually falafel is packed with lots of vitamins, fiber and iron making it also relatively good for you!
I’m sure everyone’s tried falafel before given how popular it is worldwide (we even had it in Mexico!), so I’ll just leave you all with a recipe from Tyler Florence on the Food Network:
- 2 cups dried chickpeas, picked through and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves coarsely chopped
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, leaves coarsely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 8 warm pita bread, store bought or homemade recipe follows
- Tahini Sauce, recipe follows
- Shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped cucumbers
Put the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and add cool water to cover by 2 inches. Soak the beans in the refrigerator for at least 18 hours or up to 24; the chickpeas will swell to triple their original size. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
Put the soaked chickpeas in a food processor and pulse to coarsely grind, not until smooth but with no whole chickpeas remaining either. Add the baking powder, onion, garlic, spices, and herbs; process until the mixture is pureed; scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate while heating the oil, this should take about 15 minutes.
Pour 3-inches of the oil in a deep fryer or deep heavy pot and heat to 375 degrees F.
Roll the falafel mixture into ping-pong size balls. (Alternatively, use an ice cream scoop.) Carefully slip a few at a time into the hot oil, making sure they don’t stick to the bottom. Fry until the chickpea fritters are a crusty dark brown on all sides, turning as needed, about 5 minutes per batch. Remove the falafels with a slotted spoon and drain on a platter lined with paper towels.
Open the pita bread halves to make pockets (don’t split all the way) and put 4 fried falafels into each. Drizzle with the tahini sauce and layer with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Serve immediately.