Saturday, January 14, 2012
Fun with Falafel
I have been loving falafel most of my life. My uncle Shukri Zazou introduced our family to it when I was probably about 12. This was quite a revelation in the 60's, in the middle of Michigan! I have since learned to make lots of middle eastern food, and fresh falafel from scratch is one of my all time favorites. The box mixes are certainly easy and decent enough tasting, much like instant mashed potatoes are perfectly edible. But who wants that?
A food processor is a must with this recipe. I guess a blender might work okay, or a manual food grinder. But really, if you are the least bit interested in cooking, go buy a Cuisinart food processor. Don't be a pretender.
Here are the 'gredients:
16 oz.bag of dried chickpeas, soaked 24 hours and uncooked
however many cloves of garlic you can take-I use about 6 or 8
1/2 cup or so of bread crumbs or soaked bulgur
sesame seeds, about 2 tablespoons (optional)
a big fistful of roughly chopped parsley or cilantro
4 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons ground cumin
salt and pepper
Put all the above ingredients in a very big bowl and toss them to begin incorporating them. Then pulse all this in the processor until it is incorporated but still grainy. Don't get it too fine--you don't want it to be pasty. When you grab a handful and squeeze it, the mixture should stick together. If it doesn't, add a little water. I have to process the falafel in 2 batches to get it to fit in the machine.
Don't fret if you end up with too large a batch of raw mix. It freezes really well!
Form it into little ping pong sized balls. I like to flatten them a bit so they're little fat patty shapes. Kind of like my arse looks when I've been eating too much falafel!
Heat about a half inch of peanut oil in a deep frying pan. It takes a while to get hot enough. I don't really know what the temperature should be, but if you drop a little blob of falafel into the oil it should immediately swarm with sizzly bubbles. I am so very scientific.
AND NOW THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: When you slip the falafel balls into the oil to fry, resist the urge to fuss with them and turn them about. Keep yer mitts off 'em! Just leave them alone until the submerged bits are quite cooked before you try to turn them or you'll end up with a big greasy pan of free floating falafel crumbs. Oh, the horror. The shame!
When the little darlings are crisp and brown, drain them on paper towels.
Also, you can vary the ingredients if you wish. Some people add onion, hot chiliies, fava beans--whatever your taste tells you.
I love to eat falafel with yogurt-tahini sauce and a salad of chopped tomato, cucumber, scallion, olive oil and lemon juice. I also like to jam those ingredients into a pita and have it as a sandwich.