Falafel

I love Falafel. Lebanese street food at its best. When I left Lebanon I knew I will be craving some food that taste way better “out” or “on the street” than their homemade version! Take the Shawarma for instance; there is no way you can achieve the meat or chicken shawarma flavors at home… it just doesn’t work. It is good, probably healthier but their is always something missing! I thought the same way about the Falafel and 10 years later I finally tried to make them at home, from scratch, because the craving was too big to ignore. After a lot of trials and overflowing ideas I narrowed the recipe to its basic form. It is still a work in progress but this structure is a delicious base to any creative twists and additions.

A lot of Falafel recipes call for fresh cilantro leaves in the mixture. I personally don’t like my Falafel green. I like them crusty, crunchy and golden brown inside and out! I don’t use fresh herbs in the falafel recipe only their dried version. The mixture holds better, has good consistency and deeper flavors.

When I first shared a picture of homemade falafel, I noticed the great amount of interest and the inspiration it started! Here is my basic Falafel recipe as I am working on developing some interesting variations… Stay tuned! :)

The recipe needs a little bit of planning since the dried beans have to soak overnight (or for 8 hours at least) and once done, the falafel mixture has to rest for two hours to give some time for the flavors to develop and work their magic! 

With some research I found out that multiple cookbooks and resources recommend adding sesame seeds in the mixture. The end result is pretty and crunchy. You can always try it out. 

Because I am cooking for the whole family my basic falafel recipe does not include hot spices in the mixture. I serve the chile and other spicy options on the side so each family member and lebanese-food-fanatic-friend can build the falafel sandwich he craves.

Bon Appétit! :)) 

Basic Falafel Recipe

Recipe credits: Rafaella Sargi
Makes approx. 20 Falafel

Ingredients
1 cup dried shelled fava beans
½ cup dried chickpeas
¼ cup onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons ground coriander
½ tablespoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Vegetable oil for frying the Falafel.

For serving
Pita bread, radishes, tomatoes, fresh parsley leaves, scallions, chile, pickled turnips and of course “tarator” a tahini based dressing.
Basic Tarator Recipe: in a bowl, using a small whisk, combine ⅓ cup of Tahini with one grated garlic clove, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, ⅓ cup water and season with salt.


Directions
You will need a large mixing bowl, a colander, food safe plastic wrap, a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, a falafel “shaper / scooper” or an ice cream scooper, a large pot for frying the falafel and a wire rack.

In a large mixing bowl put the dried shelled fava beans and chickpeas. Add water until the beans are totally submerged. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the beans soak overnight.

The next day, drain the beans and discard the water. Rinse well the beans with fresh water in a colander and let them stand for a few minutes.

In a food processor, put the soaked beans, onion, garlic, salt and spices and mix until all the ingredients are very finely chopped, well combined and resemble an homogenous crumbly dough. Transfer the falafel mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for two hours. This step will help the flavors combine and develop.

Heat some vegetable oil in a large frying pot. Using a falafel “shaper / scooper” form one falafel ball at a time and drop it directly in the hot oil. Repeat this step 5 to 6 times and let the falafel cook until golden brown flipping them halfway through the cooking process so the browning is homogenous. Do not overcrowd your pot. Once the first batch of falafel is done, let them rest on a wire rack and prepare the second round of falafel balls to fry. The wire rack will let them drip off any oil excess without making them soggy. Repeat theses steps with the remaining mixture.

Your falafel are ready to enjoy!