I love falafel. I really really do. A couple of years ago, I had a crazy craving and discovered that there are no good ones in my neighborhood. Wha? I actually couldn’t believe that a neighborhood in Toronto didn’t have decent falafel, but there it was. After trying a number of sub-par falafel (Hint: You should never see someone microwave one), I decided to make my own.
For my first attempt, I used canned chickpeas. Big mistake. I looked on sadly as they dissolved into the oil when I tried to cook them. So, I dove into research into how to make REAL falafel. This first thing - you need to soak some dried chickpeas.
Real falafel is NOT made with pre-cooked chickpeas. It’s made with raw, soaked chickpeas. This means that you need to plan in advance, but it’s totally worth it. Start by soaking 1 1/2 cups of dried chickpeas in water overnight. You want to ensure that the chickpeas are covered by a generous amount of water.
The next day, drain the chickpeas and place them in your food processor.
Grind the chickpeas until they resemble coarse sand. You might have some bigger pieces in there, but that’s fine. Place the ground chickpeas into a large bowl and add the following to the food processor:
- A large bunch or parsley (a cup or more)
- Half a large onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Process until the mixture resembles a paste and add it to the bowl with the chickpeas.
Mix the green goo and chickpeas until they are well incorporated. At this point, you can store the mixture in the fridge until you are ready to cook or you can MAKE SOME FALAFEL! If you want to make them now, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda into the mixture. This will make the falafel extra crispy.
I like to fry my falafel in a frying pan with a thin layer of oil. I used to deep fry them, but I don’t like dealing with that much hot leftover oil. Heat a frying pan over medium heat with about half an inch of oil in it. Once the oil is hot, you are ready to shape your falafel - you want to shape them and place them directly into the oil. These things are delicate. I like to shape them between two tablespoons, sort of scooping them between the spoons. I’ve learned that this technique is call quenelle and rather than explain it, I’ve found this great video from Fine Cooking that shows how to do it. You can also shape them into balls, but I’ve found that this shape lets you fry them evenly on each side. They’re cute too.
Fry your falafel until golden brown and delicious, flipping to make sure that each side is cooked and then drain on some paper towel.
I like to serve my falafel in lettuce leaves with some tahini, hot sauce and a salsa of diced cucumber, tomatoes and parsley, but they are also great to serve at a party.
Just put the falafel out with a variety of toppings and wraps and let your guests build their own creations.