Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Falafel Queen?

I have been craving falafel for a long time. I've never made it myself before, but have had it in restaurants the odd time, with salads or in a pita. I love it...the coriander, cumin and crunch to the chic peas? Mmmm. It is a perfectly yummy vegetarian food that I've never felt was trying to be something fake meatyish. Just it's own middle eastern yumminess.
I decided that tonight, since I got home at a normal human hour, I would attempt falafel myself for supper. I found a recipe a while back that mentioned baking falafel instead of deep frying them in oil and I hunted it up. Healthy AND yummy? I was in. Thankfully J will try anything I make once as long as there's no seafood involved, so I decided to have it in some pitas with tzatziki, diced tomato and cucumber, lettuce, and some feta.
I picked up some fresh parsley on the way home, and altho there were no pitas to be had, I found some good flat bread wraps that would work. I gathered the following and modifies things a bit to my taste to get the following recipe:

-1/4 c finely chopped onion
- a 540 mL can of chic peas, rinsed and drained
-1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
- 4 small cloves garlic, minced finely
- 1 generous t ground cumin
-1/4 t ground ground coriander (I ground up some seeds in my mortar and pestle. Smells. SO. good.)
-1/4 t salt
-1/4 t baking soda
- 1 rounded T flour (I would have used 2 T of bread crumbs too but hadn't any...sigh)
-1 egg, beaten
-pepper to taste (~8 grinds of the pepper mill)
(you could add some fresh cilantro too - I've seen it in some recipes -but I hate the none here. No soapy supper for me...)

~2 t olive oil, for frying
-1/2 a lemon of some lemon juice (optional) for flavour at the end

Turn on the oven to 400.
I sauteed the garlic and onion for a few minutes until they softened a bit. Then I put the drained chic peas in a bowl and mashed them with my hand mixer. You could use a food processor at this point, if you're not so into texture. The hand mixing left the odd bit of parsley and onion texture - I like it that way. Then I added the the rest of the ingredients and, because I wasn't using the food processor, I just mixed it up well with my hands. Then I formed the mush into 8 small patties (I'm too uncoordinated to try and deal with little balls of falafel) about 2 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch think and let them sit for 15 minutes - this helps keep them from falling apart.

After this I fried them about 4 minutes a side on medium heat in a bit of olive oil to brown and crisp them up on the outside. Then I transferred them to a cookie sheet and baked them another 12 minutes (6 minutes a side) in the oven to cook them through and crisp them up a bit. When I took them out I lightly drizzled them with bit of lemon juice and then we served them up warm, broken up into a few pieces wrapped up in the flat bread with some tzatziki, diced tomato and cucumber, lettuce, feta and a drop or two of greek dressing and a bit more pepper.

These were delicious. They didn't have the breadcrumby crunch I'm used to, but I think it could be remedied by adding a bit of breadcrumbs to the mix. They aren't deep fried so they aren't quite as crunchy, but the outsides were nice and brown and crispy and the flavour of them was AMAZING! Better than a lot I've had before. The recipe I modified says this should serve 2, but since we had lots with them, there are some leftovers for my lunch salad tomorrow.
If you swap out of the egg for a vegan friendly binding agent these would be a tasty vegan entre.

I must say: give falafel a try - they are bits of crispy, healthy vegetarian goodness. DEFINITELY in our regular meal rotation!