Monday, October 28, 2013


In our apartment, I've turned Sunday, the day of football, beer, and chicken wings, into a day of dignified late afternoon lunches (that are consumed while watching football since we are both high-brow and low-brow).  First there was the Spanish inspired meal of chorizo, goat chesse, and pepper frittata with sweet potato fries, then we moved on to homemade sushi (because I'm just that insane), and then this week it was falafel with homemade hummus (recipe here for the hummus).  

Falafel was supposed to be made this summer.  When tomatoes and cucumbers were at their peak so we could eat it with a side of Greek salad, but then I realized that deep frying in August is about as appealing as popsicles in January (sometimes logic trumps all) so I put falafel on the back-burner.  I had no plans to make it this past weekend but of course the NYTimes had to write an article about the merits and health benefits of fried food and of course they mentioned falafel and of course I convinced myself that I needed to make falafel right this second because who am I to argue with the NYTimes.  

Homemade falafel is a beautiful thing.  The exterior of a homemade falafel ball is shatteringly crunchy and as you bite into one, the crisp exterior gives way to a tender subtly spiced and herb-y interior.  It is nothing like the falafel you are accustomed to which is why homemade falafel is so special (and so worth it).  All it requires is some fluffy pita, some ethereally smooth hummus, and a bit of hot sauce for one absurdly amazing meal. 


Recipe adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Maimi

Serves 4 and makes about 22 pieces

I added more parsley/cilantro to my falafel since I thought the original recipe lacked the traditional amount.  In my eyes, falafel is a green color and I love the freshness of the herbs with the chickpeas.  Feel free to add more or less depending on your own preference.  I also upped the amount of spices since more spices is always better in my book.  

1 ¼ cups / 250g dried chickpeas
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup / 80 grams in total)
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Generous ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons water
1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
About 3 cups / 750 ml sunflower oil or other oil, for deep-frying
1 tablespoon sesame seeds for coating

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Set aside to soak overnight.

The next day drain the chickpeas. Place them in a food processor along with the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro. Blitz the mix in batches, pulsing each for 30 to 40 seconds, until it is finely chopped, but not mushy or pasty, and holds itself together. 

Once processed add the spices, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, flour and water, mix well by hand until smooth and uniform.   Cover the mixture and leave it in the fridge for at least an hour or until ready to use.

Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with enough oil to come 2 ¾ inches up the side of the pan.  Heat the oil to 350 degrees. 

With wet hands, press 1 – 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the palm of your hand to form a patty or small ball the size of a walnut.  Press the mixture together to prevent it from falling apart.   Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the mixture.  Sprinkle the balls/patties with sesame seeds.

Deep fry them in batches for 4 minutes until well browned and cooked through.   It is important they really dry out on the inside so make sure they get enough time in the oil.

Drain in a colander lined with paper towels and serve at once with pita, hummus, and other assorted dips!   

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