Jon: "Greg, I know you publish a lot of recipes, but falafel? Where’d you come up with falafel?"
Greg: "I think the Egyptians came up with it about a thousand years ago."
The Egyptians may have used fava beans, but today, you can find falafel made of dried chickpeas at cafes and food stands around the world. Read on for 'Food Guy' Greg Patent's recipe for falafel with tzatziki (cucumber-yogurt) sauce.
8 ounces of dried chickpeas
1/2 cup diced of sweet onion or diced white part only of green onions
1/2 cup of sliced green onion tops
1/2 cup of loosely measured flat-leaf parsley leaves (you can substitute part cilantro)
1 teaspoon of table salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
4 garlic cloves, coarsely cut (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of chickpea flour (optional)
2 tablespoons of water
One inch for frying: extra-virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, or safflower oil
1. Put the chickpeas into a 3- or 4-quart pot and top them with 2 to 3 inches of cool tap water. Cover the pot and let it stand at room temperature for least 12 hours, or as long as 24 hours. Drain well, rinse under running tap water, and drain well again. Use right away, or transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
2. Add the rinsed and drained chickpeas into a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the sweet or green onion, green onion tops, parsley, salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, chickpea flour, and water. Pulse 5 or 6 times for 1 second each. Scrape the work bowl and pulse over and over again to chop everything together well. You don’t want to make a purée, but the falafel mix should be processed into very fine pieces.
3. Transfer the falafel to a bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate about 2 hours before cooking. You could leave the falafel refrigerated overnight or up to 2 days before cooking.
4. To cook, have ready a tray lined with plastic wrap and another tray lined with paper towels. Shape heaping teaspoonfuls of falafel into 1-inch or larger balls, pressing firmly to make sure they hold together. Arrange them on the plastic wrap. You’ll have 16 to 20 balls. Heat 1 inch of oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over medium heat. Monitor the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. When the temperature registers 360 degrees F., begin adding the falafel to the hot oil. I place a falafel ball into a slotted spoon, lower the spoon into the oil, and turn the spoon to release the falafel into the oil. Repeat with 5 more falafel, spacing them apart in the oil. Cook 2 minutes, until well-browned, then carefully flip the balls over with the slotted spoon and cook another 2 minutes until well-browned all over. Try to maintain the oil temperature between 350 and 360 degrees.
5. Remove the cooked falafel with the slotted spoon and set them to drain on the paper towels. Continue cooking remaining falafel.
Makes 16 to 20 falafel.
This is the classic cucumber-yogurt sauce that you can serve not only with falafel but also with grilled meats, fish, or vegetables. Be sure to squeeze the water from the cucumber or the sauce will thin out. You can make tzatziki before cooking the falafel and refrigerate it.
1 cucumber, about 3/4 pound
2 cups of thick Greek yogurt, 2% fat or whole fat
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of grated garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon of salt, plus more if needed
Peel the cucumber and shred it through the coarse holes of a box grater into a medium bowl. A handful at a time, squeeze as much liquid as you can from the cucumber and set what you’ve squeezed onto a triple thickness of paper towels. Repeat until you’ve squeezed and drained all the cucumber. Wipe the bowl dry. Pat the cucumber with more paper towels to remove more moisture, and put the cucumber back into the bowl. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, and salt. Stir well, taste, and adjust seasoning with lemon juice or salt. Serve with the falafel. Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge.
Makes about 2 cups.
Recipe ©Copyright 2019 by Greg Patent