April 4, 2011

Falafel

I've been dreaming of homemade falafel for several years now. I always assumed it was too much work, and after a couple failed attempts, I couldn't muster up the motivation to try again. Until now. And now that I know it's so easy, these will become a common occurrence.

One reason that I've failed in the past is because I assumed that the chickpeas would be cooked after they soaked, and so I thought I could substitute canned beans. Clearly, this is entirely my fault. I made up something that wasn't there...that reminds of a story (see below). So the proper method for falafel is to use DRIED chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). After the chickpeas have soaked for 24 hours (and not longer -- another one of my mistakes), they are processed with spices and flavors to yield a grainy batter. I used a cookie scoop to form them into balls and drop them directly into the frying oil. A few minutes later you have beautiful, scrumptious falafel!

Part of what makes falafel so good is the condiments. I don't have any specific recommendations yet. The sauce in the photo below didn't really turn out - I made up my own. However, there are great suggestions here and here. For yummy falafel, you basically need tahini (sesame seed) sauce and some crunchy vegetables served in pita bread.

My story: When I was a teenager, my family used to always tease me that I couldn't cook. I realize now that my problem was really that I couldn't read. One time I was making a berry cobbler. The berries were mixed with 2 tablespoons of flour to thicken them. In my limited kitchen experience, I assumed it said 2 CUPS of flour. Who ever heard of a recipe with only 2 tablespoons of flour? Flour is always measured in cups. If you need a pastel colored dessert, try out my method. Anyway, so I've had a revelation, and isn't recognizing the problem the first step on the path to fixing it? Just like the falafel, I assume I know what to do, but if I would just read ahead and correctly, I think some of my cooking failures would not have happened. So cooking lesson for the day? Read the recipe!


Falafel
from Mark Bittman at the NY Times

1 3/4 cup dried chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 small onion, quartered
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Scant teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 cup chopped parsley or cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for frying

1. Put beans in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches; they will triple in volume. Soak for 24 hours, adding water if needed to keep beans submerged.

2. Drain beans well (reserve soaking water) and transfer to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients except oil; pulse until minced but not puréed, scraping sides of bowl down; add soaking water if necessary to allow machine to do its work, but no more than 1 or 2 tablespoons. Keep pulsing until mixture comes together. Taste, adding salt, pepper, cayenne or lemon juice to taste.

3. Put oil in a large, deep saucepan to a depth of at least 2 inches; more is better. The narrower the saucepan the less oil you need, but the more oil you use the more patties you can cook at a time. Turn heat to medium-high and heat oil to about 350 degrees (a pinch of batter will sizzle immediately).

4. Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter and shape into balls or small patties. Fry in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary; total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

I love falafel! I'll come eat at your house any day. :)