Let me count the ways… All right, there aren’t many ways, but I do love the falafel. The best falafel I ever had was in Austin, Texas. Ah, Austin, home of many vegan delights… Yes, it was silly – but we had driven from Minneapolis to Austin, and after Iowa it gets hard to find much to eat on the road besides meat. I needed a break, and it was so good. The little patties were crispy on the outside but tender, savory and flavorful on the inside.
Falafel made from scratch at home has always eluded me. But I’ve had to keep trying because the place by my house that has falafel on the menu serves up these mini falafel pucks that only serve to make me wish that I was in Texas. Or knew how to make it myself. It seemed that every time I tried the little beasts would explode or suffer from some sort of garbanzo bean plate tectonic syndrome. Soon there would be little fried bean bits floating and bursting into flames in hot oil, victims of the unfair and unstable universe on which they lived. And I didn’t have a clue why.
“It’s street food for crying out loud! It can’t be that freakin’ hard,” I’d cry to Marv who would just roll his eyes over my falafel incompetence. Then, while I was on a plane, I read a description of falafel that said it was a dough made from garbanzo beans and spices that’s fried in oil and served in pita bread with cucumber sauce and lettuce. A dough. Doh! All the recipes I had tried were basically bean patties with nothing holding them together.
Armed to the teeth with this new information – I had another go. And it worked beautifully. Yea! Falafel for me!
1 1/2 c dried garbanzo beans
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 – 6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 c fresh cilantro, oregano or basil, coarsely chopped
1 t baking powder
2 T sesame seeds
2 T cumin
1 – 2 T Old Bay seasoning
1 T cayenne
1/4 – 1 c whole wheat flour
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
Rinse the beans and remove all that look funky. Cover with water and soak for 15 – 20 hours, until tender. Drain the beans, and place them in a food processor along with the onions, garlic and cilantro. Pulse until the the bits are paste-like but still distinguishable. Transfer to a bowl and and stir in spices, baking powder and flour 1/4 c at a time until the mixture is dough (doh!) like and the mixture isn’t wet.
Heat about 1/2″ of oil in a pan. Meanwhile, roll dough into smallish balls and flatten them out. Set aside.
Once oil is heated to 350° or more, fry falafel patties about 5 minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels and serve with something cucumbery (see sauce below and salad to come).
1 8oz container light sour cream or Greek yogurt (if you can find it)
1 small cucumber, deseeded and and chopped into chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 lemon juice
1 T chopped fresh dill
1 T parsley, chopped fine
salt & pepper
Combine cucumber and garlic in food processor and pulse until coarse. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse until liquid. Serve with falafel or chicken or beef or whatever you like.