Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Falafel with Hummus and Jerusalem Salad Part One

This recipe was a bit of a learning experience. There were a lot of elements, and some very aggressive fudging of amounts when it came to actually following my recipes. Problem numero uno was the chickpeas. 

It turns out that the actual falafel is also chickpeas (in addition to the hummus), which I'm am embarrassed to say I did not know. Unlike hummus, where the chickpeas have been cooked, falafel requires the chickpeas to be soaked for at least 24 hours and then ground up, thereby supplying a drastic difference in texture. 

So, I got a little too excited when confronted with my bag of dried chickpeas and rather than, oh, I don't know, measuring anything in order to come up with a proper amount for soaking, I dumped in the entire bag. I think I will do an experiment to see how much dried yields how much rehydrated, because the chickpeas expanded impressively and I had to transfer them to another bowl in order to contain them:

It wouldn't have really been a problem if I had been making a massive amount of falafel, but I was only cooking for three and it became clear that some of the rehydrated chickpeas would have to be cooked and used in the hummus, rather than the canned ones I had purchased, in order to avoid waste. 

This led me online in search of hummus recipes that specified how to cook the chickpeas. Luckily, I found one that sounded alright, and tweaked it a bit.

3 cups rehydrated chickpeas
1 cup chickpea cooking liquid (reserve this after cooking your chickpeas)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. tahini
4 large garlic cloves
Juice from one medium-sized lemon
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Cumin, to taste

Begin by placing the chickpeas in enough water to cover them fully, plus two inches. Bring this to a boil, skimming the foam off the water for the first few minutes. Cover partially and continue to cook for up to three hours, when the chickpeas are tender. When the water level is starting to get low, add boiling water to replace what has been lost. If you use tap water, the temperature of the water will decrease and you will lose the boil. 

Once the chickpeas are done, pour out 1 cup of the cooking liquid to save, and rinse the chickpeas in cold water. Ideally, you would then remove all the chickpea skins, but I was on another TV-related deadline and only did about half. I think it turned out fine this way, but I suppose I am not a hummus purist.

In a small saucepan, heat some water, and thrown in a head of garlic. No need to peel, but do break up the bulb a bit so that the cloves can be softened. Puree the chickpeas with the oil, and then add the water through the narrow feed-tube in your food processor until the chickpeas begin to get very creamy, like so: 

Remove the garlic from the saucepan and run under cold water to help in the removal of the cloves' skins. On a work-surface, pour out around a 2 teaspoons of salt, and use your chef's knife to smash the 4 garlic cloves (or as many as you would like) into the salt. Continue to mash and mince until the salt and garlic come together into a thick paste. 

In a small bowl mix the 3 tablespoons of tahini with the lemon juice and mix well. Add in the salt and garlic mixture and mix again. Add this back into your food processor and blend thoroughly, adding as much cumin as you feel suits the hummus. If you feel that you need to adjust the levels of any of your seasoning, tahini or lemon juice can be added directly to the food processor, but you should repeat the salt + garlic method, or at least mash your garlic first to avoid any chunks. 

Once you feel that the seasoning is good, turn on your food processor and just let in run for about 30 seconds to really cream everything together:

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