Saturday, October 20, 2007

Turkish Delight

Somebody asked me when the first time I had falafel was and I can’t remember. I’m surprised it’s not stuck in my mind because it seems like after taking that first bite it would be branded in my memory forever.

Falafel is probably my favorite snack/late-night food. It’s not so common in the US to have loads of kebab places, especially in the touristy center of a city. But they’re definitely plentiful here in Barcelona and all last year I was fortunate to live about a minute’s walk from the best one, Dionisos. This place is Greek kebabs, and they have the best lamb, which I occasionally get, but it’s hard for me to stray from my favorite hummus and falafel pita. And Berlin was like a playground for me, home of the kebab. One of my favorites was Habibi just because their hummus was super smooth and tasty. I’m not, however, a fan of falafel that is deep fried into a crispy, golden-brown ball. I prefer the lighter fried, so there’s a slight crisp, but it’s not as if you are eating a shell to get through to the good stuff.

I’ve become a hummus-making machine. I think it’s about the easiest thing to do, and made 100 times easier when I used a hand blender to mix everything together. So, I’m not going to post about making hummus. Instead, the other night, I got the hankering to make falafel, for only the second time in my life (to make it myself). I browsed through recipes and looked at the main ingredients, and then sort of through everything together, tasting and checking the color, consistency as I went along. So I’m just going to list the ingredients without exact measurements because I think it doesn’t have to be exact.

And like I said before, I don’t like the hard, super-fried balls, so I formed mine into patties and fried them lightly till they were golden but still soft and a little fragile, and they came out great.

Falafel Wraps

about 250 g or a few cups chickpeas (I used dried ones soaked overnight and not cooked, plus a bit of the water)
1 whole small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
lots of cilantro
lots of parsley
toasted cumin (about 1 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. baking soda
good pinch of salt

yogurt sauce
1-2 cups natural yogurt
½ cucumber
1 clove garlic
mint (often used but I didn’t have any)

tortillas/durums for wraps

The first thing I made was the yogurt sauce because it can be set aside for later and it’s very easy. Chop the garlic, peel the cucumber and chop into little pieces, and then in a bowl mix together the yogurt, garlic, and cucumber. Done.
The easiest thing to do is find a hand blender or regular food processor and put the chickpeas, onion, and garlic in and combine. Then pulse in the cilantro, parsley, cumin, baking soda and salt. If it looks like you need more greens, put them in. If it tastes like nothing, add more salt. If it’s dry, put in more chickpea-water. Mine came out pretty green, which I think was fine, I liked the color. When you’re happy with them, form them into patties. While you’re doing this, in a big pan, heat up some vegetable oil, about ½ - 1 inch deep, to medium-high. I always figure out how hot it needs to be after seeing the first one cook, you don’t want it to turn dark brown, but a nice golden color, it should take a few minutes, probably 3-5 for each side. Place a few patties in the oil, and when they turn a nice color, flip them until they’re done. Then drain on paper towels.

While those are draining, get all your other stuff ready: lay out the durums, first heating them up in the microwave. Chop lettuce and tomato, along with some extra cilantro. Now you’re ready to assemble. Put a couple falafels on the durum, spread on some yogurt sauce and sprinkle with lettuce, tomato, and cilantro. Roll up and enjoy. I must say this is a wonderful food to transport if you wrap it in foil. Not only did I feel like I was eating a kebab off the street, but better, but it doesn’t have to be steaming hot to enjoy. So it was a nice lunch the next day to pack up and take outside.


Sarah said...

I LOVE falafel. Nicely done courtney. nicely done. I must attempt this soon.

d anything said...

These were excellent. I'm surprised that the shallow-frying approach could be so effective. Great colour too. Mmmm, chickpeas...