Falafels (★★★★☆)

I made falafels, yogurt herb sauce for the falafels and black bean burgers on Sunday.  I’ve already shared the yogurt herb sauce recipe and the falafel recipe is below.  I am not saving the best for last, as the black bean burgers were actually the one disappointment from Sunday’s experiments with new recipes.  The falafels, on the other hand, were a pleasant surprise.  I’m only giving them four stars because it’s been a long time since I had authentic falafels, and I’m not sure how these would actually compare to other falafels, but they are both good and easy to make, and unlike the black bean burgers, I likely will be making them again in the near future.

Part of the reason they were such a pleasant surprise is that most of the recipes I looked at wanted me to soak dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) overnight and/or refrigerate the falafel mix overnight after preparing and before frying.  Like my I-don’t-have-time-to-make-this-correctly Baked Potato Soup, I eschewed any steps that would make this unnecessarily time consuming, but unlike the baked potato soup, I don’t feel like the falafels suffered because of it.  I prepared the falafel mix in the early afternoon and fried them that same night, and the results were delicious.

Falafels (★★★☆)
Deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas, a traditional Arab food, which I served in a toasted pita with sliced lettuce, cucumber and drizzled with yogurt herb sauce.

2 cans (15.5 oz each) of chickpeas/garbanzos beans, both thoroughly strained of as much liquid as possible
1 small vidalia onion
5-6 fresh cilantro sprigs
5-6 fresh parsley sprigs

8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ cup all-purpose flour

Cut the onion into a dozen or so pieces and put the onion, chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt into the blender.  Pulse on speed 4 several times until everything is well mixed and no large pieces of cilantro, parsley, chickpea or onion remain.

Add the baking soda and a tablespoon of flour into the mix, and pulse several times until the baking soda and flour is evenly mixed in.

Put the mixture into a mixing bowl, add the rest of the flour, mix by hand until the flour is evenly mixed in, then refrigerate for at least a few hours (overnight is fine) before cooking.

To cook, heat an inch of vegetable oil in a pan to 190°C (350-375°F).  My wife’s trick for knowing when the oil is hot enough is to put the tip of the wooden cooking chopsticks we use in the oil.  If you put the tip of wooden chopsticks (or of a wooden spoon) in and the oil bubbles, it’s ready to use.  Form balls just a little larger than golf ball size, and drop them in the pan.  Fry them for one minute, then turn them over and fry them for another minute and they’re ready.  I served them in a toasted pita with sliced lettuce, cucumber and drizzled with yogurt herb sauce.

The result was surprisingly good.  I can also look at the above ingredients and say, “Hey, I really like garlic, chickpeas and cilantro, I’ll probably like this,” so it’s no surprise to me that this was good, but I was surprised at how good both the sauce and falafels were together, and how easy this was to make.  I definitely recommend trying this recipe out.

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