Indio, California: Looking for a new recipe to try? This one is uncomplicated, inexpensive, and the dough can be prepared in advance of actual cooking time. Serve the falafel in pita pockets for dinner, or as an appetizer with dip. Many options here – all delicious.
Falafel is the most popular snack food of the Middle East. Made with garbanzo beans, fava beans, or a combination, vendors selling the deep-fried spiced patties are as common as McDonald’s in America. Everyone has their favorite version, and the most common preparation is to soak dried garbanzo beans overnight and then pulverize them in a food processor. (Lisa’s favorite version is to buy the patties (frozen) at Trader Joe’s.)
This is my easy RV version, requiring no soaking, no special appliances and the ingredients are commonly available. Usually, the fried patties or balls are served inside pita bread. In Israel, tahini (sesame paste) is the most popular topping, but I prefer Tzatziki (a cucumber yoghurt sauce). Alternatively, you can form the dough into smaller patties or balls and serve them as an appetizer, with Tzatziki sauce as a dip. Or serve the warm patties over a bed of greens, topped with Tzatziki. This recipe is also great if you are feeding vegetarians/vegans – make the patties larger and they are delicious in a hamburger bun. Plan ahead – the dough needs to rest for about two hours before forming into patties and frying.
One 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup finely minced yellow onion
½ cup finely minced fresh parsley (I use flat-leaf Italian parsley)
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
(Oil for frying – vegetable, peanut of grapeseed oil)
Sliced tomatoes/sliced cucumbers to accompany, if desired
6 ounces plain Greek yoghurt
2-inch piece of cucumber (peeled or not, your choice)
Prepare the dough: Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and place them on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to dry while you chop the onion and parsley. Place the garbanzo beans and lemon juice in a medium bowl and smash, with either a potato masher or a fork, until all the beans are broken and no large pieces remain. Add the minced onion and parsley. Stir well. Mix the flour, salt, cumin and coriander in a small bowl. Whisk well, then add the spice mixture to the garbanzo beans mixture. Blend very well. (Dough will seem quite crumbly.) Place dough in refrigerator for at least two hours, or as long as all day.
Make the Tzatziki Sauce: If you have a grater in your RV, use it to grate the cucumber. If not, diced it as small as possible, resulting in about ¼ cup of grated cucumber. Add the cucumber to the plain yoghurt and stir to combine. Place the Tzatziki sauce in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld for a few hours.
Fry the Falafel: TaTake a small handful of dough and squeeze it tight to form a 2-inch patty. (This recipe will make about ten 2-inch patties.) Heat a skillet and coat the bottom with a very generous layer of oil. Let the oil get very hot and carefully place the little patties into the hot oil. Fry for three or four minutes on each side, or until the falafel have browned and the edges are crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain, then serve immediately in warm pita bread halves. Stuff also with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, if desired, topped with Tzatziki sauce. Serves 2 or 3.
Until my next update – from fabulous Las Vegas – I remain, your chickpea correspondent.