Monday, November 1, 2010

Easy Falafel

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I have never made falafel before but I can honestly say that I have eaten many.  My favorite place to eat them has an open kitchen so I have had the opportunity to watch how they are formed and fried. But have not been there to witness the mix being made.  So it was time to do some research and what I discovered is that everyone has their own twist on what blend of ingredients make an authentic falafel.  Being that I have never traveled to the Middle East, I just wanted to make them taste like my favorite restaurant which is owned by someone from the Middle East so I’m guessing they are some what authentic.

PHASE 1 Canned Beans:
I chose Saad Fayed’s recipe as my base recipe for three reasons.  First because the recipe title was EASY Falafel and second because after reading his bio he grew up making falafels and the final reason was because I had all the ingredients available. 

His recipe calls for canned garbanzo beans and that is what I used.  In hind sight I would follow the advice of others and use dried soaked uncooked beans instead because even though the falafels fried up beautifully and didn’t fall apart the insides of the falafel were mushy.  Don’t get me wrong, the flavor of these falafels were delicious and I would use this recipe in a pinch just as it is.  But, if this small adjustment will give the falafels a meatier texture I will make the extra effort and get those beans soaking.

PHASE 2 Dried Beans:
Tonight I am going to attempt to make falafels with dried garbanzos.  It is recommended to soak them in cool tap water for at least 8 hours at room temp and up to 24 hours in the fridge. Being that I am on a mission and want to attempt these again I am going for the 8 hour soak at room temperature. 

The final product was considerably worth the extra effort of soaking the beans.  The falafels were crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside with a meaty bite to them rather than the mushy center that I got when using the canned beans. 

When I used the canned beans I carefully pulsed the food processor a few times hesitantly then scraped down the sides and repeated this a couple more times.  Watching the mix turn in to a mush, at this point I decided to stop the process and add the rest of the ingredients in a separate mixing bowl using a folding motion rather than stirring so I wouldn’t mash up the beans anymore.

Whereas the dried beans needed a lot more pulsing with very little care as to them getting too mushy.  I also could mix all the ingredients in the food processor instead of transferring to a separate bowl.  The mix was beautiful and cooked up perfectly.  The winner here is clearly the dried beans.  It tasted just like my favorite falafel restaurant.


EASY FALAFELS

½         pound              dried garbanzo beans (1 cup), soaked and drained
½         large                onion, finely chopped
3          cloves              garlic, minced
2          Tbsp.               fresh parsley, finely chopped
2          tsp.                  ground coriander
2          tsp.                  ground cumin
1          tsp.                  salt
2          Tbsp.               flour
Oil for frying (canola or vegetable)

Soak dried beans for 8 hours at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Rough chop the onions and place them in the bowl of your food processor along with the whole garlic cloves and fresh parsley.


Pulse until they are finely chopped.

Add garbanzo beans to the food processor and pulse until you get a thick paste.
Add coriander, cumin, salt and flour and pulse a few more times to mix well.

This is what it should look like.
Place the mix in the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes and up to a day.  This step is pretty important to help shape the balls and keep the balls from falling apart when cooking.

Scoop the mix out with a small ice cream scoop.  

And roll them between the palms of your hands to shape them.

You want them to be the size of a ping pong ball

Then place them in a dish until you are ready to fry them.  If you are not planning to fry them up right away place them on a paper towel in the fridge so the paper towel can absorb any moister that comes out of the balls.

Fry in at least 2” of oil heated to 350 degrees. Cook until dark golden brown.

Serve with tzatziki sauce, pita, tomatoes and cucumbers

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