One of the best representatives of Mediterranean/Middle eastern cuisine is the mighty falafel; the best falafel is by far homemade falafels. The hearty, the spicy and the fluffy all come together in a crunchy perfection. I can’t remember exactly when I first tried falafel, but I fell in love with it instantly. The subtle balance of curry-esque spices that play into a deliciously crispy, yet light fried patty.
The basics of it: the ingredients need to be fresh. I can’t be clear enough on that point. I know one could use dried parsley, canned chick peas reinforced with chana flour and garlic powder…… For heaven’s sake, don’t. The product will start turning disastrous almost immediately.
Dried chick peas are a must; canned simply won’t work. The secret to the success of homemade falafels is the freshness of the onion, garlic and the herbs. They lend a freshness to the mix that transmits flavour that only fresh base ingredients can. As well, they add a moisture to the recipe that is crucial to the blending process. Adding the spices in can be done in any order you like. so long as they get evenly distributed throughout the blend.
Once the blend is fully pulsed, it can live in the fridge for up to a few days; although I don’t recommend letting it go longer than 24 hours, the flavours begin to flag after that. Adding the baking soda to the mix just before forming and frying makes all the difference in the texture. Believe me; I made a batch following this recipe but forgot to add the soda. I definitely noticed the absence of it.
Now: frying the patties…. Peanut oil does make for a great choice, as it has a high smoke point and lends a light flavour that flatters the dish. I likely don’t need to tell you to be very careful when using frying oil, do I?
- Food processor, frying pan
It all goes in the blender….
- 2 cups chick peas soaked from dry for 24 hours and strained
- 1 small onion rough chopped
- 3 cloves garlic rough chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley rough chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro rough chopped
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tsp coriander
- 3 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 tsp garam masala
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 3 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
Mixed in just before cooking….
- 1 tsp baking soda
The day before:
- Measure out 2 cups of dried chick peas (for the love of god, don't use canned; it'll turn out terrible) and cover completely with water and let stand overnight.
- Strain all the water from the chick peas and place in a mixing bowl.
- Puree the onions, garlic, parsley and cilantro with the lime juice.
- Mix the puree of onions, garlic and herbs in with the rest of the ingredients in the bowl with the chick peas.
- Add the whole mix into the food processor and pulse until fine, but not smooth.
- Once the mix is consistently blended and the spices are evenly spread through, place it back in the mixing bowl and put it in the fridge to set for at least an hour.
Ready to cook….
- Remove from the fridge and gently mix in the baking soda.
- Heat up a frying pan with 1/8-1/4 of oil in it.
- Form the mix into balls just a bit smaller than golf balls (this recipe should yield about 16) and lay them as you go into the oil, pressing them into semi-flat patties.
- After about 2-3 minutes, turn the patties over and let cook another 2-3 minutes. Golden brown is the color you're after.
- Once done, remove and place on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Serve in a pita, wrap or on a salad as illustrated in the video attached.Enjoy!