Monday, February 20, 2017

Feasting on falafel

My husband and I have recently developed a mild obsession with falafel.  We first tasted falafel several years ago when we were in Cairo, we enjoyed it, but never ate it again until a trip to The Morning Trade - a local artisan food market - we had the most delicious falafel from the Falafel Fundi on that occasion and have since enjoyed falafel at various markets in and around Durban.

A few weeks ago we decided it was time to try our hand at making our own falafel.  I spent some time on "the webs", tracking down a falafel recipe and we duly embarked on our falafel making adventure.... it was indeed an adventure, an adventure that ended in what can only be described as oily thick soup... Oh my word, what a disaster!  The falafel seemed fine until we got to the frying stage, at which point it simply disintegrated into the oil.  The culinary version of "total crop failure"!

So it was back to "the webs" and I discovered that many people have this problem with disintegrating falafel.  It seems that having dry ingredients is key - as in... dry those chickpeas after rinsing, dry the herbs...  Some purists say that tinned chickpeas just don't cut it and we had indeed used tinned chickpeas in our failed attempt at cooking falafel.   Armed with this knowledge I then went in search of a different recipe and I discovered I had been harbouring a good recipe all along, in my Buddhist Retreat Centre cookbook, charmingly named "The Cake the Buddha Ate".  I adapted the recipe slightly, mainly in the addition of Harrisa spice, which I love and the optional addition of an egg to ensure binding of the mixture.    So this weekend found us trying to wrestle the falafel beast again.  This time we were a lot more successful and managed to enjoy the fruits of our labour!

FALAFEL click here for a printable version of this recipe

1 cup dried chickpeas, soak in deep water overnight, drain and rinse.
1 onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup Parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon (reserve the juice for hummus and lemon tahini, see below)
1Tbl Harissa or Moroccan spice
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
½ tsp bicarb
3Tbl chickpea (gram) flour, plus more if needed
1 egg (if necessary)
Oil for deep frying

Note: It is important that the chickpeas and herbs are completely dry before adding them to the food processor, so pat dry first.

Place onion, garlic, lemon zest and fresh herbs into food processor and blend until very finely chopped, (but be careful not to over-blend and make a wet paste! )  Set aside.
Place the raw chickpeas in the food processor and blend until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Add the chickpeas to the onion mixture and mix in seasoning and bicarb.  Stir together and then slowly add the chickpea flour until the mixture can be rolled into balls.  If necessary add more chickpea flour and then if the mixture is still not binding well add a beaten egg.
Shape approx 1 Tbl of the mixture into a ball and lay on tray, repeat with remaining mixture.
Heat 3cm of oil in a deep frying pan and fry about 6 balls at a time, until brown and crispy.  Drain on paper towel.
Serve with a selection of sides, such as red cabbage salad, roasted peppers,  avo slices, kalamata olives, shredded lettuce or spinach, hummus , lemon tahini or tzatsiki and wraps or pita breads.

Red Cabbage salad
Ingredients (makes one large bowl’s worth):
  • 500g cabbage (about 1/4 head)
  • 1 carrot (or more, they’re delicious in this!)
  • 1 medium beet (or more, again – the more the merrier!)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 3T canola oil
  • 3T vinegar
  • 2t salt
  • 2t sugar
1.    Finely slice cabbage, grate carrots and beets; combine with garlic
2.    Make your vinaigrette by combining the rest of the ingredients.
3.    Bring to a boil, then remove from stove.
4.     Pour over the veggies.
5.    Toss to coat all the veggies

Lemon Tahini (found this recipe on Halfbaked Harvest)
1 cup plain greek yoghurt
1/3 cup tahini
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1Tbl Harissa (or more, to taste)
Salt to taste.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk till smooth.  Will keep for a week in the fridge.

1 can of chickpeas (or soaked and cooked dried chickpeas)
1/6 to 1/3 cup of tahini
2 to 3 tsp lemon juice,
a tsp of crushed garlic (or more, to taste)
a dash of Tabasco,
kosher salt and pepper

Blend to a paste - then trickle in a small amount of hot water and some olive oil until it’s the consistency you like, garnish with Paprika!


The Chantal said...

I loveeeee the falafel roti's from Falafel Fundi at Shongweni farmer's market! Crave them all the time.

Gill said...

They are the best!