Thursday, December 9, 2010

Falafel

I lived on MacDougal Street (in the West Village of NYC) for many years and my favorite falafel joint was Mamouns. I think they have about 4 tables (I guess what I'm saying is that it's not fine dining, really more of a walk & eat or take home situation, but sooo good).  There is falafel in the suburbs, but it's not exactly on my way home (plus it's no Mamouns).  So I found this recipe a while back and have been making it at home ever since (probably about once every month or two).  My daughter even likes it (although she still sticks her nose up at the tahini sauce).

Falafel is usually deep-fried in balls, but I prefer to flatten the balls into patties and pan-fry.  It uses way less oil, plus they fit much better inside the pita pocket!


FALAFEL
Makes approx. 16 patties (5-6 servings)

1 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste (1/2 tsp. is on the mild side)
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons flour
canola oil or vegetable oil for frying

tahini sauce:
4-5 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste), can be found in most supermarkets
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

for serving:
pita bread, preferably whole wheat
shredded lettuce
diced onion
chopped tomato


1.      Place the chickpeas in an airtight container and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain.
2.      Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add parsley, cilantro, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, and cumin. Process until well blended but not pureed (you should still see small chunks of chickpeas).
3.      Sprinkle in the baking powder and flour and pulse.  Turn mixture into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
4.      Form the chickpea mixture into balls and flatten into patties (about 1 ½ inches in diameter).  Set aside.
5.      Heat ¼-inch oil in a large saute pan.  Fry the patties for a few minutes on each side, or until dark, golden brown (a little green will still show through).  Drain on paper towels.
6.      Thin tahini with 2 tablespoons water (and lemon juice, if using).  Stir well (it's difficult at first, but keep stirring and it will loosen up).  Keep adding water until the sauce is light in color and thin enough to pour.  See photo at the bottom of this page.
7.      Stuff each pita with 2-3 falafel patties, lettuce, onion and tomato.  Drizzle with tahini sauce.  Have a napkin handy.

This makes a nice salad too, if you want to leave out the pita.

adapted from The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan.

before mixing (everything but the baking powder & flour)

after mixing

before pan-frying

during pan-frying

after pan-frying (draining on paper towels)

tahini sauce

3 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Another delectable dish that I've eaten and enjoyed at your table! I LOVE falafel and I can't ever find one I like here either. Yours was delicious!

Elizabeth said...

What happens if after mixing the whole thing together I realize that I can't make/serve the falafel for 3 more days? Am I better off:
1. Putting the mixture in an air tight container in the back of the fridge and not worrying about it?
2. Cooking them up and reheating them before eating in 3 days?
3. Freezing the mixture and then defrosting it before cooking in 3 days?
4. Cooking and freezing the cooked falafel and defrosting before eating?

I'm leaning towards option #1, but I want to make sure.

Susan said...

The falafel do well being reheated in the oven from the fridge, so option #2 is pretty good. I do like option #1 (although 3 days might be pushing it just a little--I wouldn't go any longer).

Maybe you can combine #1 and #2 (keep the mixture for a day or two, cook them and reheat from the fridge)? I tried freezing them once and don't recommend it. Keep me updated!

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