Israeli Falafel...Gluten-Free. Sometimes I like to make a meatless meal. But when opting for that choice, I like to bring in a ton of flavor to compensate for the lack of meat. Falafel is a great choice.. it is meatless, yet it doesn't sacrifice on flavor.
This time around, I decided to make some falafel at home. As much as I try to avoid deep frying, I find that making a good falafel leaves you with no other option than to deep fry. Believe me, I tried baking the falafels. The baked version wasn't necessarily bad, they were just a bit more"gummy". I also found them to be a bit more dense....probably due to the fact that they didn't rise or puff up very much. The deep fried version was lighter in texture and puffed up a bit. I was glad that the falafels didn't absorb very much oil~ as they weren't greasy at all.
In order to save on oil, I use a small pot to deep fry. The smaller the diameter of the pot the less oil I need to use. I cook about 5 falafels at a time, and this works very well for me. This way I don't waste oil. I especially like to use grapeseed oil to do my deep frying... grapeseed oil can be quite expensive, so using a smaller pot helps tremendously. I also like to make a larger batch of falafel, which I freeze for later. I will usually re-heat the falafels in the toaster oven. Ideally, the falafels are best eaten hot, right after they are fried. The trick to not having the falafel break apart on you while frying, is to process the mixture until fine....sort of like coarse sand with bigger bits of chickpeas scattered throughout(that's the best explanation I can give). If the texture of the falafel mixture is too coarse, it will not hold together....and thus breaking apart on you during frying. Some people say to add flour....that it helps to bind the mixture. In my case, I found it not necessary. They fried beautifully.
If you would like to see a video clip on how the falafels are made, you can watch this VIDEO. Also, I think it is important to use dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight to get the right texture. Personally, I wouldn't use canned chickpeas. The falafels are best stuffed in a pita bread with your favorite condiments. You can use chopped tomatoes, onion, sauerkraut, pickled turnips/radish, lettuce, etc...Drizzle a bit of tahini and some yoghurt and you have a wonderful meatless sandwich that is full of flavor. This is one of the sandwiches I made using the pickled carrots/radish I posted earlier Hope you enjoy....
You will need: inspired by Epicurious...makes about 30-40 falafels depending on size.
16 oz(1 lb or 2 3/4 cups) dried chickpeas
2 cups diced onion
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tsps baking powder
2 tsps cumin
1 tsp coriander, ground
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt( or to taste)
2-3 tsps chile flakes (or to taste)
1/2- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (or to taste)
Condiments: can include any or some of the following
Place dried chickpeas in a large bowl.
Cover with plenty of water....about 2 inches above the chickpeas.
Place in refrigerator overnight.
Drain chickpeas well. They should have swelled up doubled in size at least.
In a bowl of a food processor, add the soaked chickpeas and the rest of the ingredients.
Process till fine...stopping and scraping the sides if need be. You don't want a complete paste but neither do you want the mixture to be coarse. You want to err on the finer side rather than too course. If it is too coarse, the falafel will disintegrate and not hold together when you fry them.
You should be able to scoop out a a TBS and see the indentation in the mixture. The falafel mixture will be moist. Refrigerate the mixture for a 1-2 hours. Take falafel mixture out from the refrigerator and form balls...with a light hand. Fry a few falafel at a time in hot oil(350 deg or so) till nicely golden brown. I do not like to waste too much oil...so when I fry, I use a smaller pot.
Serve falafel hot.
Place falafel inside a pita bread and add some garnishes/condiments to include any or all of the following: chopped onion, tomato, pickled radish/or sauerkraut, tahini, yoghurt, cilantro leaves, etc.