For those not yet aware, “Falafel” is a common dish eaten throughout the Middle East and are Egyptian in origin. They are delectable little deep-fried balls or patties made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa; “falafel.” Falafel are typically topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze (appetizers).These scrumptious bean-based fritters are now found around the world as a replacement for meat and as a form of street food.
I’ve made many versions, but this is my favorite recipe that provides consistent perfect results every time. If you are a fan of cilantro feel free to divide the parsley in half and substitute with cilantro instead. The results will be the same, but impart the earthy, lemony flavor of cilantro. You can also roll in sesame seeds before frying for added flavor and aesthetics as well.
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus extra for frying
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans chick peas, drained
1/4 c green pimento olives
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups freshly chopped parsley leaves
Pitas, for sandwich
Toppings: shredded cabbage, chopped tomato, sliced pickled beets, sliced dill pickles, hummus & lemon yogurt dipping sauce, recipe follows.
Lemon Yogurt Tahini Sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and kosher salt, as needed.
Mix ingredients well and chill in frig until ready to use. Makes 1 ½ cups.
In medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and sauté onion and peppers 2 to 3 minutes, add garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
In a food processor, pulse chick peas, olives, red chili flakes, ground cumin, egg and salt and black pepper to taste. Form a coarse consistency. Add flour and parsley. Pulse until mixture starts pulling from the sides of the food processor. Remove mixture to a large bowl and mix in the onion mixture. Chill falafel until ready to cook.
In a thick-bottomed skillet heat 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. Use a small cookie scoop to form into small balls and drop into hot oil—slightly flatten tops. Cook falafel balls a few at a time, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; turning so not to burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while still hot.
Open the pita bread to make pockets. Smear a about 1 tablespoon of hummus inside, place in 3 to 4 falafels. Stuff with cabbage, tomato, pickled beets and pickles; drizzle with sauce generously on the inside.