When I was in graduate school in Chapel Hill, NC, I lived right outside of downtown Chapel Hill. I was pretty much within walking/biking distance of the campus, and I spent a lot of my time in the downtown area, frequenting the many restaurants and shops on Franklin Street.
One of my favorite little eateries was a Greek/Mediterranean place that had the best hummus, greek salads, falafel and baklava. I would often stop in on my way to class and get something to take with me to campus. Although there are plenty of good places in Atlanta to get decent falafel, none of them seem to live up to my little hole-in-the-wall place in Chapel Hill.
The other day I had a revelation, though. One of my favorite things to do is recreate my favorite restaurant dishes in the comfort of my own home. I mean, how hard could it really be to make falafel at home? It’s street food for goodness sake. If you can cook it in a truck, you should certainly be able to make it at home without too much trouble.
I turned to Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World, thinking that if anyone would have an easy and authentic recipe it would be he. I had this idea that it was going to be somewhat complicated, and time consuming but I was pleasantly surprised. Seriously, I didn’t get home until almost 6 o’clock this evening, and I had dinner on the table by 6:45 – and that includes making some baby food for my nine-month-old (he had pureed butternut squash and ricotta pasta, which was quite tasty, also). Granted, I had soaked my chick peas overnight the night before in anticipation of making this, so I had a bit of a head start, but otherwise, it only took like 20 minutes start to finish.
soaking time: 24 hours
prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: 15 minutes
1 3/4 cups dried chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
corn, grapeseed or other natural oil for deep-frying
- Soak chickpeas overnight. They should triple in volume.
- Drain the beans and transfer them to a food processor with all of the remaining ingredients except the oil.
- Pulse until finely minced, but not pureed – scrape the sides of the bowl down as necessary.
- Put at least two inches of oil in a large, deep saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil to about 350F.
- Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture and shape them into balls or small patties. Fry in batches without crowding until nicely browned on both sides.
- Serve on pita or other flatbread with fresh spinach, sliced tomatoes and yogurt cucumber sauce (recipe below)
For the Yogurt Cucumber Sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup of fresh parsley
pinch of salt
Puree all ingredients in food processor.