David experiments with new formulations while working as a chemist and with new recipes while at home in his kitchen.
Long long ago, I think I was 14 years old, I first encountered these tasty little morsels. One day at school, during lunchtime, the new American student, who had previously been living in Israel, brought in these little balls for lunch. Falafels he called them. Fala-whah I thought? According to him, during his family’s time in Israel, his mother picked up a falafel recipe from a Bedouin tribe. Okay yes, he had definitely lost me at this point.
The next school day arrived, and to settle my curiosity, my new American friend brought in a 200g packet of a brown aromatic powder. It turned out to be a packet of easy-make falafel mix. Riiight, so I guess the Bedouin didn’t disclose their centuries-old recipe to the mother after all!
Anyway, memories aside, I pretty much forgot about falafels after that. I presume I had other things on my mind being a teen. It wasn’t until relatively recently, literally over a decade later, that the infamous word ‘falafel’ integrated back into my vocabulary. Falafel mania had arrived here in Dublin, which was facilitated by hipster-esque new lunchtime establishments. Well, this could just be my perception, it has probably been on sale everywhere all of this time.
Okay, I’ll stop my blabbering now. So since falafels have recently come back into my life, I decided I’d try to make them at home. With a little trial and error, and more error, I came up with the best falafel recipe that worked for me. Being a little impatient and to improve the efficiency, most of the hard work in this recipe will be performed by your mighty food processor—literally the best invention in the world. On a serious note, when cooking your falafels, I have to mention the importance of using a temperature of 374 F (190 Celsius) or slightly higher. Any less than this and your falafels WILL fall apart and mess up the oil in your fryer. This did happen to me, yes I did take pictures for instructional purposes, but no I’m not going to post them :).
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- 3 cans 400g (14oz) drained chickpeas (canned), Note: If using dried chickpeas, use 1 Cup and cover with water and let sit overnight
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 6 sprigs (approx)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), 8 sprigs (approx)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- Sprinkle black pepper
- 1 tsp baking powder (optional), helps to achieve a lighter texture
- 1/3 cup (40g) plain flour
Method: How to Make Falafels
Please see instructions under pictures
1) Pour contents of canned chickpeas into a sieve, rinse with cold water under the tap, shake off excess water and set aside for later.
Note: If using dried chickpeas you must soak these overnight in cold water. These will swell so make sure to cover with sufficient water.
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2) Combine chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, coriander (cilantro), cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder into a food processor. Process all ingredients together until you get a rough meal. When complete, transfer the mixture into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Note: Make sure to scrape down the sides periodically to ensure an even mixture. Be careful not to over-process or you will get a puree! Usually, I process in short pulses and check each time.
3) Next, transfer the washed chickpeas into the food processor and coarsely process. Like in the previous step, ensure you scrape down the sides of the processor periodically and do not make a puree. Transfer this coarsely blended mixture to the mixing bowl containing the previously prepared ingredients.
Note: If you over process, your final mixture will be too heavy and falafels may not cook properly in the center. For best results, process the chickpeas in 2 or 3 batches. If you overload your food processor, you may end up with under-processed chickpeas on top and a pureed mixture at the bottom.
4) Using your hands, thoroughly mix the ingredients until you get an evenly distributed mixture.
5) Sprinkle the flour and baking powder (optional) evenly over the surface of the mixture. Incorporate this into the falafel mixture using your hands. Wash your hands before the next step.
6) Between the palms of your hands, roll small portions of the falafel mixture to form falafel balls (you should have enough for 20).
7) Heat cooking oil to 374 F (190 Celsius) and cook falafels in batches until golden brown. It is always good to cook a tester falafel first, just to ensure your oil is hot enough. If the oil is below the temperature specified, believe me, your falafels will literally break up into a coarse mess within your fryer. Baked falafels are also quite popular. I haven't used this method but you will find some good recipes online which do this.
Note: If you are at the correct temperature and your falafels are not maintaining their shape, you may have to increase the oil temperature slightly or add a little more flour to the original falafel mixture.
8) When cooked, transfer your falafels to paper towels to absorb the oil. Let cool before serving, and ... enjoy! :)
- Delicious by themselves when dipped in a yummy homemade Hummus or try with a Yogurt-Dill, Yogurt-Tahini or Yogurt-Mint sauce.
- Try a tasty falafel sandwich. Pop your homemade falafel balls into an open pita bread. Add a salad of your choice and top off with Hummus or a Yogurt sauce. You could also make a falafel wrap using tortillas.
© 2016 David Branagan