Crispy, spicy falafel make a delicious (and fairly easy-but-also-impressive) vegan lunch or dinner. Or even appetizer! Make them little bite-sized balls for snacking or bigger patties for turning into sandwiches or wraps.
The trick to making falafel is to start with soaked but not cooked chickpeas. I know it seems wrong to American sensibilities to eat unboiled beans of any kind but they do cook in the oil. It takes a while, because you’ll fry them at a much lower temperature than most fried things, but that makes sure they’re cooked through and gives them the deep, crunchy crust on the outside.
Incidentally, there are a few other regional recipes that use the same method to make fried bean snacks. Accara (or akara) in West African became acarajé in Brazil — both made from black-eyed peas — and vada in South India are made from lentils.
I like to roll my falafel into balls a little smaller than a golf ball.
Truly I’m not 100% sure how big a golf ball is, but my falafel balls are bigger than a whole walnut … maybe the size of a cow’s eyeball? Is that disturbing or awesome that I am more comfortable comparing sizes to eyeballs than golf balls?
Anyway, the size isn’t super important; whatever size you make you will need to adjust the cooking time to suit.
I use chickpea flour (aka besan) to bind my falafel so they are gluten-free, but you can use some regular, all-purpose flour, too. If you do buy the chickpea flour, use the rest to make GF socca pizza and thank me later!
It’s pretty important, too, to have a sauce (at least one!) for dipping. I made an avocado-tahini dip but this creamy hatch chile sauce or jalapeño salsa would be good, too. Or make some hummus to dip into if you have a bunch of chickpeas left!Print
Adapted from http://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/2011/01/falafel/
- Yield: 12
- 1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight in 4 cups water
- 1/2 small white onion
- 1 fresh jalapeño or 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño slices, drained
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons wheat flour or chickpea flour
- 3-4 cups oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, corn)
- Avocado tahini sauce:
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 fresh jalapeño pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Soak the chickpeas at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours at room temperature. Drain. You should get about 2 cups of soaked peas.
- Grate the onion on the large side of a box grater. You should get about 1/2 cup grated onion.
- Remove seeds from chile for milder falafel. Mince the chile.
- Grind the soaked chickpeas in a food processor with the garlic, herbs and spices until it looks like a chunky paste. It should not be completely smooth but look more like wet couscous. If you have only a tiny food processor like my 4-cup size, you’ll need to do this in batches.
- Transfer to a bowl and mix in in the grated onion and minced chile. Add enough flour to make a dough that will stick together but isn’t too wet. Cover the bowl.
- Refrigerate this mixture at least 1 hour and up to 3 days (be sure to cover so it doesn’t dry out).
- Shape balls from falafel mix using about 2 tablespoons per ball (or a little bigger/smaller if you want).
- Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep pot to 275ºF (135ºC)
- Fry balls or patties for 3-4 minutes on each side until dark brown. Keep the oil temperature between 250-300ºF (120-148ºC). You want them to cook slowly to ensure the insides are cooked through or else you’ll have raw-tasting falafel.
- Drain on paper towel or rack
- For tahini sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add extra water for thinner sauce.