Mad About Chickpeas- Falafel
It’s commonly believed that falafel (known as taamiya in Egypt) originated millennia ago in Egypt, where they were prepared using a mixture of broad beans and chickpeas. I prefer to stick to the Lebanese version which uses chickpeas only, but don’t be tempted to the tinned variety, as they will fall apart. A versatile food, falafel make for a satiating meal for breakfast (traditional in the Middle East), lunch or dinner.
- 250g/9oz/1 heaped cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed with the blade of a knife
- 1?2 green pepper, deseeded
- 1 handful of mint leaves
- 1 handful of parsley leaves
- 1 handful of coriander leaves
- 1 tsp sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1?2 tsp ground cumin
- 1?2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp plain flour (optional)
- sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 4–6 small loaves of Arabic Bread (see page 217 of The Jewelled Kitchen)
- shredded lettuce
- Tarator (see page 220 of The Jewelled Kitchen)
- 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced (optional)
- pickles, banana peppers, turnips and beets, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- Drain the chickpeas well and leave in a colander for 2 hours to remove as much moisture as possible, shaking the colander every once in a while. Alternatively, a faster approach would be to use a salad spinner, if you have one: add the chickpeas, close and spin 2–3 times to remove the excess moisture. Set aside.
- Puttheonion,garlic,pepper,herbs,saltandspicesintoafood processor and whiz for 1–2 minutes until blended into a rough paste
- (it should not be too smooth or the batter will fall apart during cooking). Squeeze out any excess water and discard it. Return the paste to the
- food processor and add the drained chickpeas and pulse a few times to incorporate until you have a smooth paste. The consistency of the paste should be grainy with a shade of pistachio green. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, then add the bicarbonate of soda. Add the flour
- if you think the mixture needs help with binding. Mix well to combine. Using a tablespoon, form the chickpea mixture into 2.5cm/1in patties, handling the mixture as little as possible. You should make 20–24 patties. Place on a baking sheet and set aside to firm up.
- Preheat the oven to low. Pour the oil into a wide, deep pan or wok and place over a medium heat. Alternatively, use a deep-fat fryer, in whichcase you’ll need more oil. The oil is ready when it begins to bubble or reaches 180 ?C/350 ?F. If you don't have a thermometer, check the readiness of the oil by dropping a small piece of the falafel mixture into the oil: if it browns within 1 minute, the oil is ready.
- Gently transfer the patties into the hot oil in 2–3 batches and deep-fry for 1–2 minutes on each side until golden brown (or for 3–4 minutes
- in total if deep frying). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the patties to a plate lined with kitchen paper. Place in the oven while deep-frying the remaining patties. Once cooked, cut the patties in half, if you like. Add the Arabic Bread to the oven and warm for 1 minute.
- Lay a loaf of bread on a plate. Sprinkle a little lettuce in the centre
- of the loaf. Put some of the falafel patties on the lettuce, drizzle with some tarator, top with some accompaniments and sprinkle with parsley. Tightly roll up the bread, tucking in one end. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve using kitchen paper or napkins to soak up the juices.