Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Falafel with Hummus and Jerusalem Salad Part Two

On to making the falafel. As a result of my aggressive chickpea soaking, I had almost twice as many chickpeas as I actually needed. This ended up being good, though, because the recipe amount would have limited the final product to one sandwich each: an insufficient amount, especially when it ended up being so good. 

Falafel (adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything):
3 cups chickpeas, soaked 24 hours
5 cloves garlic, softened in boiling water (see hummus recipe)
1/3 large red onion, in chunks
1.5 tsp. coriander seeds (supposed to be ground, but the whole seeds worked fine)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tsp. cayenne
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
1.5 tsp. salt
Ground pepper, to taste
3/4 tsp. baking soda
Juice of half a lemon
Neutral oil for pan-frying

This is pretty much a "dump and process" kind of recipe. I didn't actually measure much of anything, especially because I was playing the whole thing by ear having increased the amount of chickpeas from 1 and 3/4 cups to 3 cups. 

So here's everything pre- and post-processing:

I got a bit worried when I tasted the falafel mixture prior to cooking , because the chickpeas still tasted really hard and everything had an unappealing rawness to it. Still on a time deadline, I decided to roll with it, make up the balls, fry them and hope for the best. 

Bittman's recipe called for deep-frying the falafel, and I'm sure that this is the standard method most of the time, but, frankly, I find it kind of gross to deal with that much oil and disposal is always a pain. A shallow pan-fry it would be! Be sure and give the falafel ample time to brown on all sides, and handle them with care. Not deep-frying means that there is a much greater risk of crumbling. 

Here's the happy falafel balls cooking away:

And here's the final product, served with a simple Jerusalem salad of tomato, cucumber, red onion, lemon juice, and some dill for additional flavor:

I had someone ask about gluten-free options, and I'll admit that most of the time I am not very gluten-free friendly. This is because seitan is a far superior source of protein than many of the meat-free options, and also, many pre-made or frozen products are not vegan. However, this recipe is one that I think could be adapted fairly easily. 

When I was first thinking about it, I figured that there had to be a gluten-free pita of some kind and I'm sure there is if you look hard enough. A much easier option that I have seen in every supermarket is gluten-free tortillas, with which you could build a little falafel wrap. For an added bonus, you could even fry the wrap, creating an additional texture with the crispiness of the outside and the comparatively soft inside, a combination mirrored by the falafel itself.

Another option would be to serve the falafel over rice, with a comparatively larger amount of the salad, or perhaps some wilted greens. I would recommend adding some grated lemon zest and chopped dill to the rice itself, and maybe a bit of cumin, in order to echo the other flavors of the meal.

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