I love Falafels! They're fairly simple to make, super cheap, and delightfully tasty! They're a Middle East dish that's made with deep fried chickpeas and spices. I make them into balls, but you can also make them in patties...like a vegetarian burger.
To get started you'll need the following (this will make about 3 dozen of them):
3 cups dried chickpeas
2 Tbl cumin seeds
2 Tbl coriander seeds
1 large onion, chopped
9 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (I sometimes substitute oregano)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes (you can adjust this to make it spicier or milder)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper
Vegetable Oil (used to fry the falafels)
Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, & feta cheese
Tahini or Tzatziki sauce (recipes to follow!)
First you need to rinse the chickpeas and discard any bad ones. The night before you want to make the falafels, you'll need to begin soaking the chickpeas. Put them in a bowl and cover them with water by at least 2 or 3 inches. Put them in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
Now it's the night to make falafels! Get a small skillet and your cumin & coriander seeds. Put the skillet on medium heat and put the seeds in it to toast them.
Just leave them over medium heat until they'll toasted and fragrant. Pull the seeds off and grind them up. You can use a mortar & pestle if you have one. Otherwise use your imagination. :) You can substitute already ground coriander & cumin, but the taste will be different. And in my opinion, no where near as great!
Next, drain the water off of the chickpeas and rinse them completely. They will have "grown" to 2-3 times their original size.
Put the uncooked chickpeas into your food processor and grind them. You just want to insure that there aren't any whole chickpeas left, it will not be smooth. Next add the onion, garlic, ground seeds, herbs, red pepper flakes, and baking powder.
Process these until well mixed and all of the items are well ground. Do not add any water or other liquids! Add salt & pepper to your taste. Transfer the mixture back into your bowl and put it into the refrigerator while you finish preparing the meal.
Next you'll want to heat the oil. If you have a deep fryer, put it around 350 degrees. If not, use a heavy pot and heat it to med-high heat. While the oil is heating I slice my tomatoes and cucumbers.
Once the oil is heated, get your falafel mixture back out. You now need to roll it into balls, about the size of ping pong balls.
Test your oil temperature and the consistency of your balls by dropping just one into the hot oil. If it falls apart, you can add a little flour or plain bread crumbs to the mixture to help them stick together. You want the oil hot enough that they'll crisp up on the outside, but not too hot that they'll burn. Once it's all correct, you're ready to go!
I also toss my pita bread into the oven to warm it at this point. :)
Put around six into the oil at once. Be careful to move them so that they don't burn to the bottom of your pan. It takes about 4-5 minutes to cook them. You want them to be a nice, dark brown color on the outside. They'll also be very crispy. When they're ready pull them out with tongs or a slotted spoon and put them on a plate covered with paper towels.
You're now ready for a fabulous dinner!!! Cut open your pita bread and stuff it with a few falafels, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and feta. You can also use drop in some tahini or tzatziki sauce. Eat now and enjoy! Don't forget to make a few extra for lunch tomorrow. :)