I have many fond memories associated with eating faIafel. When I was in my early 20’s at 3:30am on a friday night in Windsor you could have found my friends and I at any late night Lebanese joint (of which there were many), gobbling up plates of hummus, tabbouleh,and falafel laughing and talking about our wild adventures of the evening, and where on to next. (Oh how I miss actual late night food options,Vancouver is severely lacking in restaurants open later than 11pm.) The other thing that I LOVE LOVE LOVE about falafel is those beautiful little psychedelic dayglo pink pickled turnips you get with them. MAN are they ever good. Anyone who comes over and notices a jar in my fridge hits them immediately, and hard.
I first set out to make falafel years ago and to my dismay after many attempts they were all unsuccessful. Flavors were there, but just couldn’t get the right texture,or get them to brown properly. The issue was that I was using canned chickpeas. All the recipes I saw said to use canned chickpeas. What I learned when I finally made them right: you don’t use canned chickpeas. You don’t even use cooked chickpeas. Dry, then soaked overnight chickpeas is the trick.
AKKK! You say. I cant think ahead far enough to soak beans overnight! You crazy Andrea. When I want falafel I want it NOW! No worries. There is a quick soak bean method that takes only a few hrs. Fellow bean eaters, this will blow your mind and change your life. You can find that method here.
Falafel- makes approx 25-30 falafel balls
2 cups dry chickpeas that have been soaked (over night or quick soak method)
1/2 onion, rough chop
2 md sized cloves garlic
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
20 cracks of black pepper
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped (approx 1-1.5 cups)
2 tbsp flour (any kind is fine, chickpea flour would be great if you have it)
optional: 1/2 tsp baking soda, hing, or, dry epazote
coconut oil for frying (any frying oil will do, as long as it has a relatively high smoke point)
1) Put all of the ingredients into a food processor (except frying oil) and pulse until the mixture looks comes together easily, kind of looks like sticky sand.
The optional ingredients are “de-gassing” helpers:
Hing: (or assofetida) is an Indian spice. It is a dried ground resin commonly found in Indian vegetarian dishes. Some vegetarian religious diets further restrict the use of onions,garlic and ginger.Hing is used to replicate an onion/garlic flavour. Out of the 3 options this is the best in my opinion.
Epazote: is mexican herb. This will change the flavour of the dish a bit, but I find it to be a nice addition.
2) Make falafel balls about 2 inches in diameter (or any size you want really).Press them together nice and firm using your hands.They shouldn’t be crumbly or falling apart. Set them on a baking tray and place them in the fridge for at least an hour. At this point you could also put them in the freezer so they might freeze individually, then store them in a resealable bag or container.
3) When you are ready to fry them you have the option of shallow frying (which is what I did) or deep frying. If you have a deep fryer use that. I am also jealous of you (hehe.) For the shallow fry method set up a cast iron with about an inch oil covering the pan. When the oil starts to ripple on the surface the oil is ready. Fry falafel ball on each side for approx 3-4 minutes,or until golden brown. Set on paper towel to soak up excess grease. They are now ready to serve.
4) Make into a pita sandwich or a falafel plate: add things like fresh tomatoes,sliced red onions, hummus, tabbouleh,tahini garlic sauce, sriracha, pickles,pickled turnips, pickled hot peppers, lettuce, ect