Cooking School – Falafel
By now, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain what a falafel is. They (both the little bites, themselves, and the whole sandwich) have become such an integral part of the North American snack food scene that pretty much everyone has had occasion to see or taste one. The origin of the falafel is disputed. Some argue that it was invented in Egypt and popularized by the Israelis. Although the Lebanese and Palestinians can also lay fair claim. The point is that the origins of falafel are next to impossible to prove, and in any case, what does it really matter. Falafel tastes great, and it’s healthy, to boot! It provides a good source of protein and other nutrients for those times when you want a break from meat. It doesn’t have any cholesterol, either. Bake the patties instead of frying for added health benefits.
Falafel can be made from puréed chickpeas or lava beans. Come to think of it, there’s no reason not to use any kind of bean you happen to fancy, or at the very least, have on hand. They can be made in a food processor or by hand. Add a few of your favourite flavours, and voilà, you’ve created your own signature falafel. I’ve usually seen them served with a green salad, pickled vegetables and hummus either on a plate or in a pita.
Don’t be daunted by the look of restaurant made falafel. Of course those are going to be perfectly round, bite-sized gems. Yours don’t have to be. At least, mine usually aren’t. But, they always taste good, and that’s what matters most, right?
Feel free to use 16oz of canned chickpeas. However, be aware that you may need to add more flour to bind it together. Canned beans tend to hold and release more water than dried beans that have been soaked and cooked. You may also use regular all-purpose flour instead of chickpea flour.
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (or more as needed to make a thick dough that holds together)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Place dried chickpeas in a bowl. Cover completely with cold water. Place in the fridge and let soak overnight. Drain; place soaked chickpeas in a pot. Cover with fresh water and cook over medium heat for two hours. Don’t let them boil as it sometimes makes the beans tough. Let the beans cool.
2. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor or in a large bowl. Purée or mash with a potato masher. Adjust for taste. Stir in flour 1 Tbsp at a time until mixture has reached the consistency of a thick paste.
3. Roll mixture into balls of about 2-inches in diameter. Flatten them slightly. Bake them in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes per side. Or, fry them in about 2-inches of oil until golden brown.
Serve hot with pitas, hummus, tahini and green salad dressed with oil, vinegar and salt. Pair with a Grüner Veltliner.