Have you ever tried falafel? They are a middle eastern appetizer made from chickpeas mixed with some herbs and spices and then fried. Generally served with assorted dips and stuffed into pita breads. A great appetizer or even a lunch idea. Why not take a look!
First, I just want to say that this recipe came from Epicurious. Okay, it's not an exact replica of that recipe, but pretty close. I've made them at least a dozen or so times and they are wonderful little bites full of flavour.
If you have never searched Epicurious for recipes and cooking tips, it's a great site and you should really check it out. I can't tell you the number of times I have headed over there looking for something over the years. When I had tiny kids, the baby and toddler kind, my favourite pass time was looking through Epicurious for dinner inspiration. After hours of playing Lego, watching Barney & Friends, being spit up on a thousand times and screamed at repeatedly for no apparent reason, Epicurious helped me feel like a grown up.
Although those days are long gone, I still remember vividly the days of trying to feel like a grown up amidst the chaos of the small child life. As much as I loved the small kid phase, I'm not complaining about the phase we have reached. When I look back at that time, I still wonder where in the world the energy came from to get through the day alive. If you have had small kids, or still do, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
Because we didn't have babysitters and were always on a tight budget, eating out was a complete rarity. And that was where Epicurious came in and saved the day for me. I would spend ages, looking through all the gourmet meals splayed out on beautiful table settings of white linen and red wine. Meanwhile I was rocking a baby on my lap and trying to placate the toddler at my feet. Quite often there would be a Tupperware box of lunch in front quite possibly holding a stale grilled cheese and some kind of fruit that was mauled by the hands of a three year old. I would sigh at the pretty pictures and get back to my reality. The small kid reality that didn't involve starched white linen or full bodied red wine.
I was determined not to be defeated by the pint sized humans in the house and took matters into my own hands. I made a decision that once a week, I would create a three course dinner that was fine dining worthy. Or at least, Casa Pinney worthy. And I got cracking.
During nap time, I would spend my time either glued to Epicurious or in the kitchen testing out recipes that would be dinner worthy. I learned how to make choix pastry, learned what a roux sauce actually was, cooked calamari from scratch, perfected creme brulee, made pasta like real pasta, cooked with wild game, visited the fish market on a weekly basis and would ask for something I had never cooked with before, and just really fell in love with food. All of this while the tiny humans slept.
I did manage the once a week dine in experience and the food was sometimes worth writing home about and sometimes worth burning the recipe. We never usually made it through a meal without someone crying or turning up at the dinner table sleepy eyed and looking for grilled cheese. Still, it was an outlet for me to become a grown up for just a few seconds in my tiny tots driven life. So, thank you Epicurious!
Over the years, we went somewhere from tupperwear grilled cheese to fancy three course dinners and then found our footing with good ol' fashioned family dinners. It's definitely my comfort zone and more to the point, what everyone will eat!
I still love the fine dining at home experience and every now and again the mood hits and I plan and make something special for two. In fact, coming up in the kitchen tonight is just that. I had better find the candles, a clean tablecloth and dust off the CD player.
For now, let's take a look at the falafel.
Notes about the falafel:
Okay, so this isn't difficult, tricky, or anything like that. If you visit my blog, you know most of the stuff I post is pretty straight forward. If you read about falafel, you might come across recipes with very in-depth explanations and even ingredients. And that's fine. But I am here today to tell you that they are simple.
First of all, I need to say that the chickpeas in this recipe were cooked. Traditionally, falafel is made with soaked chickpeas that are then pulsed in a food processor. Okay, I imagine years ago, not a food processor. In fact, many recipes will state that falafel will not work with cooked chickpeas. Sorry, but this is wrong. I have only ever made falafel with cooked chickpeas and they work just fine.
When you do put them in the food processor, just pulse until they start to come together. You are not looking to turn it into baby food, for example. I used chickpea flour, but you can use regular flour. In the recipe below I state 5 tablespoons of flour. This can be a little give or take. I always fry one ball and see how it goes. It it comes apart, then it needs a little more flour. Also, chilling the falafel before cooking is important. If it's warm, they will most likely come apart when frying.
In this recipe, I used some harissa seasoning because I really like the flavour and had some on hand. This is not essential. In fact, you wouldn't traditionally see this in a recipe. So, if you don't have any, just use cumin, coriander and some chilli powder. That is what I normally use.
Falafel is a great make ahead appetizer. You can have all the balls rolled out and ready to fry just before serving. They also freeze well, believe it or not. Then they can be reheated in the oven on a baking tray. Okay, they don't hold the perfect crispy texture but they are still really good. Serve them with something like tahini, tzatziki or even Greek yoghurt. They are great in pita bread with salad and also great just as they are.
Happy cooking friends and have a great Saturday!
Makes 14 - 16 / Prep time: 20 minutes / Cook time: 2 - 3 minutes (per batch)
2 Cups/330 grams chickpeas, cooked
1/2 Large onion, roughly chopped
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
Small bunch fresh chopped parsley
Small bunch fresh chopped cilantro
1 1/2 Teaspoons harissa seasoning (not paste, dry seasoning)
1 Teaspoon cumin
1 Teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons chickpea flour
1 Teaspoon baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying
In a food processor, add the chickpeas, onion, parsley, cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and harissa seasoning. Pulse until it's coarse. Add the baking powder and chickpea flour. Pulse for a further few seconds until it just comes together.
Place in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
Heat about 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep sided skillet. Form small balls and fry in batches. Use a slotted spoon to turn them over. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Repeat for all falafel.
Suggested serving with pita bread, cucumber & tomato salad and cucumber raita or plain yoghurt. Best served immediately.
Click the downloadable link below to print recipe!
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