Thursday, April 5, 2012

Making Falafel for Meatless Monday

One of the advantages of Meatless Mondays that I've written about previously is the ongoing pressure/desire to stray out of our comfort zone and into less than familiar home cooking territory. This week, I suggested we try making falafel, the ubiquitous Middle Eastern street food that is now commonly found in most major US metropolitan areas. Why not? After all, we love chickpeas -- and they're deep fried -- what a deal!

Wading into the internet for a workable home recipe, we ended up in a familiar place. Seems that lately all roads lead to Mark Bittman, our "go to" New York Times food guy. Here is his recipe for falafel.

  • 1 3/4 cups of dried chickpeas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • scant tsp of cayenne (or to taste)
  • i cup chopped parsley (or cilantro)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Neutral oil (grapeseed or corn for frying)
  • Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with water by 4 to 4 inches. Soak overnight. Expect the beans to triple in volume.
  • Drain beans and reserve the soaking water. Transfer to a food processor. (Note: we are fortunate to have a VitaMix blender. To get the proper consistency, a strong blender is needed). Add the remaining ingredients except the oil. Pulse until minced but not pureed. Add small amounts (no more than a tablespoon at a time) of the soaking water if needed to allow your blender to work. Adding too much water will make blending easier but will insure that your falafel falls apart during cooking. Taste, adding salt, pepper, cayenne or lemon juice to taste.
  • Add oil to a deep sauce pan. Set heat to medium high and heat to 350 F (if you have thermometer, use it).
  • Scoop heaping tablespoons of the batter and shape into balls or small patties. Fry in batches, without crowding, until golden brown, turning as needed. Total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temp.

Traditionally, falafel is served in a kind of sandwich made with pita bread, a salad made from cucumber, green pepper and tomato all diced and lightly dressed with oil and lemon (we used white balsamic in place of the lemon juice). It is typically finished with a tahini sauce. The sandwiches can either be in the pita pocket or in an open face style, eaten with a knife and fork. Either way, they are delicious, and have a heartiness that makes you forget there is no meat involved. If you've had falafel on the street and liked it, try making it at home. If you haven't had it before, I highly recommend you try it!



    1. Wow, that looks delicious - and simple enough to make. I'm a big fan of using beans (and chickpeas are a terrific bean) in place of meat, but surprisingly I've never had falafel. Ever. So thank you for sharing this...

    2. Thanks. You're right about it being easy to make. If you try it, watch the amount of water you add. Just a little too much makes it hard for the falafel to hold together during frying. We love beans, all kinds, and agree that chickpeas are one of the best!

    3. We really love Falafel especially the kids, I see now and I come back to see your recipe, look delicious!!

    4. Thanks Gloria! Glad to have you as a reader of my blog.

    5. This looks delicious as always. I love Falafel but I have never made them myself. I think I may after reading this! Keep up the fantastic work :)

      1. Thanks Anneli, this was our first time making it at home. It was soooooo easy and delicious!

    6. Thanks for linking up on my blog hop. I love falafel!

    7. Yum! I'll have to try this way too! Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Thanks Jenni, hope you like it was much as we did!

    8. I made this for dinner last night! We all loved it. Thanks for the recipe. It was the first one that I came across that didn't seem so complicated and I got to use my Vitamix!

      1. Thanks Sharon! That's exactly what we love to hear - easy AND delicious. I'm sure the people over at Vitamix would love to hear about it on their Facebook page


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