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Falafel Galore

posted on: Oct 31, 2018

Falafel Galore

BY: Habeeb Salloum/Arab America Contributing writer

Falafel were probably first prepared in ancient Egypt and, from that era, they have remained that country’s national food. Called ta’mia – the only place in the world where they are not known as falafel – these vegetarian delights have for centuries been eaten by both rich and poor. In this ancient land, and the other countries, which rim the eastern Mediterranean falafel, are a snack food par- excellence. Their mouth-watering aromas flowing from the cooking stalls in A1eppo, Damascus, Beirut, Jerusalem, and other Middle Eastern cities entice passers-by as if begging to relieve their pangs of hunger.

In North America, the consumption of these croquettes of the Old World is fast spreading throughout the large urban centers. Known as the hamburgers of the Middle East, they are beginning to compete with their meat counterpart in the fast food arena. To a vegetarian, they are God sent.

The traditional falafel are spicy, deep fried bean patties or balls and get their name from the Arabic fulful (pepper). Their basic ingredient is ground broad beans, chickpeas or a combination of both. A great food for both rich and poor, they are tasty, low in price, rich in proteins and carbohydrates, high in calories and make very satisfying main courses or light snacks.

Falafel is usually eaten in a pocket of half a loaf of Arabic bread (pita), along with tahini (sesame seed paste) salad. At times, hot sauce, slices of radishes, lettuce leaves and pickles are added to produce gourmet sandwiches. Both the patties and balls with the tahini salad are also served as hors-d’oeuvres, side dishes or main courses. Consumed in any fashion, these ancient Middle Eastern hamburgers are considered by many to be the epitome of vegetarian dishes.

The simplest method of making falafel is to purchase it as a ready-made powder from Middle Eastern markets or health food stores. The directions on the package can be easily followed. However, when prepared from powder they are not as tasty as the home-made version. In no way can they cannot compare with those made by cooks in their own kitchens.

Although not common, besides broad beans and chickpeas, falafel can be made from a series of other products and either fried or baked. When fried, they are delicious but not very healthy. On the other hand, if baked, they become a healthy and wholesome vegetarian food.

When to be baked add 1 teaspoon extra baking powder to each recipe, then place the patties or balls in a well-greased baking pan and bake in a 400º F preheated oven for 30 minutes or until they turn slightly brown.

Tahini Salad

Goes well with all types of falafel

Ingredients

2 medium tomatoes, diced into 1/4-inch cubes

1 medium cucumber (6- to 8-inches), diced into 1/4-inch cubes

1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic leaves or 2 cloves garlic, crushed

5 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons tahini (can be found be Middle Eastern or health stores)

3 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Preparation 

Place, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, and coriander leaves in a salad bowl and set aside.

Place remaining ingredients in a blender, then blend for a minute. Pour over vegetables then toss.

Serve with falafel as a salad. If falafel is served in sandwiches, place two heaping tablespoons in each sandwich.

Falafel Galore

Broad Bean Falafel

This is the most common type of falafel eaten throughout the world.

Ingredients

2 cups large broad beans, soaked for 24 hours, drained, then shelled

2 medium onions, chopped

1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped

1/2 head peeled garlic, crushed

1 small hot pepper, chopped

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 egg, beaten

Oil if to be fried

Preparation

Place all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor, then process into a paste. (Ensure, beans are well ground or the patties will break up when frying.) Allow to stand for 2 hours. Form into patties or into small balls if to be served as hors-d’oeuvres. (For patties, a falafel mold can be found in Middle Eastern stores.)

Preheat 2- to 4-inches deep oil in a saucepan. Deep fry patties or balls over medium-high heat until they turn golden brown, turning them over once if needed. (Falafel will become dry if they darken too much.)

Drain on paper towels then serve with tahini salad in sandwiches, as a side dish or main course.

Note: This and all the following recipes make about 5 dozen 2-inch in diameter patties or 10 dozen balls.

Falafel Galore

Chickpeas Falafel

Next, to broad beans, chickpeas are the most often utilized ingredient in the making of falafel.

Ingredients

2 cups chickpeas, soaked for 24 hours and drained

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 cups finely chopped parsley

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small hot pepper, seeded and chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Oil if to be fried

Preparation

To prepare, follow instructions for broad bean falafel.

Falafel Galore

White Bean Falafel

Ingredients

2 cups white beans, any type, soaked for 24 hours, then drained

1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped

1 small bunch green onions) chopped

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small hot pepper, chopped

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon thyme

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

oil, if to be fried

Preparations

To prepare, follow instructions for broad bean falafel.

Falafel Galore

Peas Falafel

Ingredients

2 cups dried peas, soaked for 24 hours, then drained

3 medium onions, chopped

2 cups finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small hot pepper, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Oil, if to be fried

Preparations

To prepare, follow instructions for broad bean falafel.

Falafel Galore

Rice Falafel

Ingredients

4 cups cooked brown rice

1 bunch green onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons flour

4 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

Oil, if to be fried

Preparations

To prepare, follow instructions for broad bean falafel.

Falafel Galore

Lentil Falafel

Ingredients

2 cups lentils, soaked overnight and drained

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1/2 head peeled garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

1 small hot pepper) chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Oil, if to be fried

Preparation

To prepare, follow instructions for broad bean falafel.

Falafel Galore

Corn Falafel

Ingredients

2 cups cornmeal, soaked overnight and drained by pressing water out through a strainer

3 medium onions, chopped

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt­

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 cup flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

Oil, if to be fried

Preparation

To prepare, follow instructions for broad bean falafel, but adding, if necessary, a little water to make soft yet quite firm batter. Instead of making patties and balls, drop 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter in the oil for each patty and 1 heaping teaspoon for each ball. When to be baked, the tablespoon or teaspoon of batter should be placed somewhat apart as they will spread.

Falafel Galore

Burghal Falafel

Ingredients

2 cups medium burghal, soaked for 20 minutes in warm water, then drained by pressing water         out through a strainer

4 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

Oil, if to be fried

Preparation

To prepare, follow instructions for broad bean falafel.

Note: If the paste is a little soft, add more flour.