Aug 25, 2010

How to Make Falafel

In 1998 I was an exchange student in Israel and feasted for the first time on falafel.  I've been a fan ever since.

This falafel recipe is basically the same as p506 in Nourishing Traditions.  My family likes the taste, I like that it is inexpensive and makes a lot.  The recipe says it serves eight.  When I make falafel, we eat it for dinner then I freeze the remainder in two packages.
2 cups dry chickpeas, soaked in water 24 hours (just soak, do not cook.  NT says to add whey to the water and chickpeas.  My experience is that it makes them very tough; I just soak in water.)
4 cups parsley leaves, loosely packed
4 medium onions (mine were large, so I used 3)
4 (or more) cloves of peeled garlic
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t pepper
2 t sea salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper (more if you'd like)
1 t baking powder

optional: cute kitchen helper

In food processor, add 1 c parsley and 1/4 of all the other ingredients.  Pulse until chopped.  Scrape down sides.  Pulse again till it resembles a course paste. Dump into a large bowl and start again.

  Basically you want to chop small batches of everything.  Do not make the mistake of try to chop all the chickpeas, or all the parsley at once.  It works best if you put a bit of everything in the food processor and chop.

Keep pulsing all the ingredients together in small batches until your face looks like his.
The above picture is still too coarse. If your mixture is too coarse it will not hold together in the frying pan.
Then refrigerate for at least one hour.  When it's dinner time, over medium high heat, melt lard in a skillet.  You can also use olive oil, but lard is much cheaper.  Most store bought lard is hydrogenated (BAD!), but homemade lard is good for you.  It is very easy to render lard.  If you're in Little Rock, Youngblood GrassFed Farm sells pork fat that you can buy through ASN.
Here's where my rendition deviates from Nourishing Traditions.  I add about 1/3 cup white flour to about 1.5 cups of the "course paste" and stir, as mine doesn't stick together well in the skillet without the flour.  Usually I also add a pastured egg yolk.  But I was out of eggs.  It worked fine with just the flour. (see also note in the comments.)
Form mixture into patties and fry in lard for about 2-3 minutes on each side till golden brown.

Above and below I'm illustrating mad flippin' skillz. 

Serve with hummus, slices of feta, Nourishing Gourmet's quinoa tabbouleh (pictured below), and tzatziki sauce (recipe below.)
My friend and fellow foodie, HB, asked the owner of Layla's about his tzatziki recipe.  He obliged!  The key is to use sour cream, not yogurt.  Be careful not to use too much cucumber, as it will make your sauce too watery.  

When I made the tzatziki, my limiting factor was about 6oz. sour cream.  The more sour cream you have, the more cucumber you can use.

Tzatziki Sauce from Layla's
Spoon 6oz sour cream in a blender with about 1/4 of a medium sized cucumber, coarsely chopped.  Add about 4-6 small mint leaves from your herb garden.   Give blender a whirl.  Scrape down sides of blender, whirl again.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper and a tiny squeeze of lemon.  Blend. Taste. Adjust as necessary.


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  1. Thanks for posting this recipe. I never would have picked it out of NT to make on my own :). We had it for dinner tonight and it's fantastic!

    I used your flour idea and it worked fine without any egg for me also. I'm making a note of it in the margin of NT.

  2. This helpful comment came in my inbox. Debra gave me permission to post it:

    And if you're doing gluten-free, there's really no need to add flour to falafel--I never have. Eggs are also optional. Instead of baking powder in the mix, I mix a little baking soda w/water and add to each batch before cooking. And use plenty of salt (and cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper). It's tough to fry them in olive oil b/c it has such a low burn point, hard to get it hot enough--other oils work better.

    Falafel is a traditional Arab cuisine, appropriated by the Israelis.

    Falafel patties are very good smushed and wrapped in warm pitas (Ali Babba's grocery, LR) with hommus and Jerusalem salad (chopped red cabbage, cucumbers, and tomatoes, salted, sprinkled w/lemon juice--refreshing).

    Debra Reynolds

  3. These looks really yummy, thanks!

  4. Ok, I've never even hear of this...looks like I'm sheltered!!

    It actually looks {and sounds} delicious. Anything I can pair with Feta cheese is a plus for me too!

    Thanks for sharing

  5. Shalom!

    Just as an aside, falafel is the national street food of Israel and enjoyed by Jewish people worldwide.

    However, lard (being of the pig) would not be acceptable since it is not Kosher.

  6. I made all of these recipes for lunch today and they were fabulous! I posted pics on my facebook but I'm not sure you will be able to see them if you aren't my 'friend.' Here's a link just in case:

    By the way, I fried the falafel in coconut ghee from Green Pastures but I have a HUGE bag of pork fat in my freezer just waiting for me to render... baby steps! :)

  7. Which school did you go to in Israel and was it spring or fall? I was at JUC in the spring of 1998.

    1. Hi Heather - I was in Rehovot at the Hebrew University in the summer of '98 . Great memories!



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