I cannot say enough about falafel, those gloriously seasoned fried balls are a staple of Middle-Eastern food. Falafel, is thought to be originated from Egypt, where the dish is widely known as ta'amiya in the Cairo dialect. Falafel were eaten for Lent by the Copts of Egypt. They’ve since made their way through the Middle East in various guises, most popularly in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
In case you've never tasted them, falafel is a vegetarian dish, made from a mixture of ground chickpeas and/or fava beans, rolled into walnut-sized balls or patties and deep-fried until browned and crisp on the outside, yielding to a fluffy interior.
Some recipes call for fava beans instead of chickpeas, or half fava beans half chickpeas, or only chickpeas. Now, the common theme is that dried beans should be soaked in cold water overnight but not cooked, they are only ground into a paste.

In Lebanon, falafel are wrapped in pita bread along with chopped herbs, pickles and a tahini sauce. If you ever go to Beirut, your first stop would be at Sahyoun, a ten square meters shop opened in 1935, and always packed with customers, night and day! Actually, the shop can't be missed as there's always a crowd of hungry people hanging around outside, munching their falafel or picking up a sandwich or a bag of falafels.

The other day, I decided to make my falafels so I surfed the net and inspired myself from many sources. My homemade falafel turned delicious, gorgeously crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It was my first attempt at doing them, but next time it will be a combination of chickpeas and fava beans in order to find if it's a better flavor combination and texture.

Ingredients: (makes 14 falafel)

400 g (14 oz) chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 large onion, chopped
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground black pepper
1½ tsp salt
3 tsp plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Tahini sauce (Tarator):
1 lemon, juiced
85 ml (5½ tbsp) water
125 ml (8½ tbsp) tahini (sesame paste)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Soak beans in water for 24 hours, then drain well.

In a food processor, mix chickpeas, onion, garlic, spices, herbs and rind until a fine paste forms.
Stir through flour, baking powder, and salt. Refrigerate until chilled (15 minutes), then roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or large deep-sided saucepan. Deep-fry falafel in batches, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through (3-5 minutes), remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm. Serve with a tahini sauce, pickled chillies, parsley, mint, tomatoes and flat-bread.

For the tahini sauce, alternately add lemon juice and water to the tahini until it has a creamy, yogurt-like consistency. Add the garlic, and season with salt to taste.

Ingrédients: (app. 14 falafel)
400 g de pois chiches
3 càs de persil haché
3 càs de coriandre hachée
2 gousses d'ail, pelées et écrasées
1 oignon, haché
½ càc de coriandre en poudre
½ càc de quatre-épices
½ càc de cumin
½ càc de piment de Cayenne
½ càc de poivre noir
1½ càc de sel
3 càc de farine
½ càc de poudre à lever
Huile végétale pour frire

Sauce tahini (tarator):
Jus d'un citron
85 ml d'eau
125 ml de tahini
1-2 gousses d'ail, écrasées

Faire tremper les pois chiches toute une nuit dans de l'eau froide. Bien égouttez.

Mettez les pois chiches, l'onion, l'ail, les épices et les herbes dans un mixer et réduire en une masse assez homogène, mais granuleuse. Ajoutez du sel, la poudre à lever et la farine, mélangez le tout et laissez reposer au frigo pendant 30 mn. Puis, daçonnez des boules avec la préparation.

Chauffez l'huile pour la friture et faites cuire quelques falafels à la fois jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient bien dorés (environ 5 minutes). Retirez-les et égouttez-les sur du papier de cuisine. Servir chaud avec de la sauce tarator, du persil, des feuilles de menthe, de tomates et de pain pita.

Pour la sauce tahini, mixez les gousses d'ail avec le jus de citron, le Tahiné, l'eau et une pincée de sel.


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