175 grams dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 tbsps chopped coriander
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp baking powder
pinch of smoked paprika
Oil for frying
Wholewheat pitta bread
salad of choice ( I used finely sliced white cabbage and carrot as it is winter)
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
inch of salt
- Drain the soaked chickpeas and tip into a food processor. Pulse them so as to chop them very coarsely, allowing the skins to separate. Once the peas are cracked and the skins loose, pour them back into a large bowl and cover with fresh water. Swish the peas around so that the loosened skins float to the surface. Either skim them off or pour them away with some of the water. refresh the water and repeat until most of them have been washed away. It is worth spending a little time on this as it makes a difference to the end result.
- Tip the remaining peas into a seive and allow to drain for 30 mins or so
- Put the remaining fritter ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and tip in the drained chickpeas. Pulse to combine and chop the mixture until the chickpeas resemble coarse sand. At that point, try to form a ball from the mixture by squeezing a spoonful together in your hand. If it holds together you are ready for the next stage. If it does not, chop a little more, and repeat the test until it does. You want texture left in the chickpeas though.
- You can leave this mixture to rest for 2-8 hours in the fridge. I was hungry though and pressed on after 30 mins, and it doesnt appear to have had any bad consequences.
- Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture into your hand and squeeze/form it into a ball - you should squeeze out some of the residual liquid in doing this.Once the ball is holfding together put it on a plate covered with baking parchment
- Heat sufficient oil in a deep pan to allow the balls to "float" in it when you are cooking them. Heat the oil to 375F. Lower in 2 or 3 balls at a time with a slotted spoon and then use the spoon to ocassionally turn the balls as they cook. It will take 2-3 mins to render them a gorgeous crunch deep brown colour.
- Remove the felafel to a wire cooling rack.Repeat until all are cooked.
- To serve, toast the pitta bread and split open. Add a layer of salad, 3 or 4 felafel and more salad on top. Drizzle over a tahini sauce made my mixing the tahini with water, lemon juice and a little salt to give a single cream like consistency.
I have a long long love affair with Felafel. I first encountered it in 1984 when I was in Egypt on holiday - I was a student on a tight budget travelling with some friends and street food was the order of the day. Putting the risk of food poisoning to one side, we figured a vegetable based food would be safer (I swear we ate camel at one point...) and so felafel became our default food throughout Egypt, across the Sinai and into Israel. Luckily the Israelis were as big fans and again there were street vendors all over the place. From distant memory the Israeli version was different, bigger with more salad tucked into the pitta pocket you need to serve them.
I have tried felafel since in many places and love it for the crispness, taste and texture. Tucked into a toasted pitta bread with some crunchy salad or slaw, drizzled with tahini sauce it is savoury and delicious. If you have never tried it, please do. If you have tried to make it at home before (which I have) then this is actually a recipe that works - or at least it did today. Typically the problem with home made felafel is that they dissolve when you fry them, turning into a yellow-green mush that has no self-respect and absolutely no ability to be eaten as nature intended.
This recipe involves removing the Chickpea skins which re apparently responsible for the mixture falling apart normally. With theskins removed (not so difficult, but a little time consuming) then the resulting mixture can be squeezed together into balls which hold onto their shape when cooked. Perfect. I got this recipe from the Sullivan Street Bakery Book, which is turning out to be pretty good.. He calls them Chickpea fritters (Panelle) but I am happy that they are a kind of Felafel.....I have used it to make some sourdough Pane Pugliese which went well, and have a wholewheat sourdough fermenting as we speak. Will let you know.
Incidentally I made these myself for myself one lunchtime, so the score is mine. I will try them on the Offspring in due course - especially as the Eldest is currently vegetarian for lent.Maybe I should point her at the recipe - although she is in college at the moment, so I guess not actually cooking. Oh well, maybe next year.
Incidentally this made about 12 felafel