Saturday, March 31, 2012

Falafel

As a vegan, falafel balls (Middle Eastern chickpea fritters) play a noteworthy role in my life.  Finding a satisfying vegan meal at a non-vegan restaurant can be challenging, but falafel often saves the day as one of the only vegan-friendly items on non-vegan menus.  I've tried to make falafel myself a few times in the past, but something always went wrong.  The balls would be too crumbly, usually, or it just wouldn't taste great.  Tonight, my luck turned.  We tried a new recipe for falafel and it yielded the BEST falafel I've ever made.  We ate it on pita with toppings, as you can see below.  Yum.

Falafel Balls

Falafel Pita
Recipe: 
Falafel
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (or more cilantro)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • peanut, vegetable, or olive oil, for frying
  • Pita bread and any toppings you'd like
First, pulse together the chickpeas, onion, herbs, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, and cumin in a food processor until blended but not puréed. (You could also mash the ingredients together by hand or with a potato masher.)  Add the baking powder and flour and pulse to combine.  The mixture should be able to form a small ball and hold its shape, so add more flour if needed.

Then, heat about an inch of oil on high heat in a large skillet or saucepan.  While the oil is heating, form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of golf balls.  Drip a tiny bit of water into the pan to see if the oil is hot: if the water sizzles, the oil is ready.  Place one ball into the oil to test--if it falls apart, add a little flour.  Then place the balls in the oil and allow them too cook for a few minutes before turning them over using tongs.  They should be golden brown.  Line a plate with paper towels and place the cooked falafel balls there when they're done.  

Serve hot on a pita with lettuce/tomato/red onion/hummus/hot sauce/tahini sauce/other toppings.  Yields 20 golf ball-sized balls.  

Comments:
Taste:      
These falafel balls were delicious.  They're crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the flavor is great.  None of the spices are overpowering, though there is a strong onion-y taste.  (You could reduce the amount of onion used, if you prefer.)  Of course, the fact that they are fried surely has something to do with their deliciousness.  I might try baking them next time to reduce the fat content. 
Accessibility:     
We used 1/2 cup cilantro as the only herb in the recipe in order to avoid buying whole bunches of both cilantro and parsley for just 1/4 cup of each.  You could also try using just parsley if that is more appealing to you.   
 Ease of Preparation:    
This is a really quick recipe.  Simon commented that he now understands why people fry things: it's so much faster than baking.   
Non-vegan friendliness:    
The three of us really enjoyed this recipe.  Then again, what's not to like about fried, flavorful fritters?

4 comments:

  1. This looks crazy-good. I will make it right away, in copious quantities that will be consumed immediately. Aaaahhhhh.......

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  2. There should be a rule that you can't post these things without immediately bringing them to me to be consumed. THESE LOOK SO GOOD!

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  3. Is there any way to make the traditional white sauce that they use with a vegan recipe? Maybe that would be a good addition...and some hot sauce!

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    1. Well, I know that Triumph Brewery actually serves a vegan sauce with their falafel, so I know it can be done. And YES, of course, hot sauce!

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