Falafel…send your taste-buds to other lands

frying the falafel

frying the falafel

I first tasted falafel in my 20’s at a Greek restaurant in Huntington, LI. I immediately fell in love. With its condiment of a tahini-yogurt sauce, the dish can’t help but sweep you away to foreign lands. (Where I am always game to be swept.)

I’ve tried different recipes over the years for making them at home, but stopped searching when Mark Bittman published his recipe in the New York Times some years ago. His recipe uses dried chickpeas that are soaked overnight, and quite a bit of parsley…so that the inside of these morsels of goodness look green.

No worries. They are supposed to. And the taste is perfect every time.

Native to the Middle East, falafel is found across countries…Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, everywhere. Tucked into pita bread, or as a snack, or part of the antipasto table (mezze table), they know how to fit in perfectly. If you make a batch, and have any leftover, they are great as a bite right from the fridge.

And then there’s that taste-bud flight to another land. Falafel will always transport you. No passport needed.

falafel - ready to eat

falafel – ready to eat

Falafel w Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

1 ¾ cups dried chickpeas

2 garlic cloves

1 small onion, quartered

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground cumin

cayenne to taste

1 cup chopped parsley

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt & pepper to taste

canola oil for frying (about 2 cups)

Sauce:

½ pint plain yogurt (Greek is best)

2 tablespoons tahini

juice of ½ lemon

salt to taste

Place the chickpeas in a medium mixing bowl. Cover with water about 2-3 inches above surface of chickpeas. Let stand for 24 hours. Add more water if it absorbs sooner. Drain, but reserve any extra water. Chickpeas will still be a little hard.

Add chickpeas, garlic, onion, spices, parsley, baking soda, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until minced, not pureed. Scrape down the bowl. Add a little soaking water if needed to help it process, but limit the amount of water – less is better or they may not stick together while frying.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Oil should be at least 2 inches deep – more is better. Heat to 350 degrees or test with a little piece of mixture. If it sizzles immediately and bounces to the top the oil is ready.

Scrape out mixture into a mixing bowl. Form small balls with the mixture. Deep fry a few at a time. Cook until nicely browned, turning them carefully – less than 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sauce:

Mix together all the ingredients. Use as a condiment to the falafel.

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