What are you making?



No. Falafel.

If you don't know what falafel is than you, my friend, are missing out. It is this delicious fried goodness made up of ground chickpeas, and if done right, is smothered in some type of creamy yogurt sauce with veggies, wrapped in warm pita. Seriously, yum.

The first time I had falafel was during my cross cultural trip to Israel/Palestine with Bluffton back in 2008. Life has never been the same since, for many reasons, but as far as the food lover in me, there has been no going back.

Whoa. 2008. This is my pal Drea back in Israel/Palestine. This is the view from the Mount of Olives

Meet Suhair, my Palestinian host sister. 

Real falafel with real pita have to be in my top 10 favorite foods. So much so that the summer I spent in Chicago was also roaming the city, looking for falafel joints to haunt. (I found three: FalafillChickpea and Babylon).

That summer, this place sold falafel wraps for 99 cents on Fridays. Best time. 

This previous Saturday evening, Levent and I decided to overcome another one of my irrational kitchen fears and fry up some ground chickpeas. (We did not, however, tackle my other irrational cooking fear of making pita bread, so we just opted to use a simple naan recipe instead).

And like usual, my fear of making falafel was not justified. Sure it was a lot of work (and a lot of work to clean up oil), but worth it.

Falafel (The Israel/Palestine version)

3 cups dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight*
1 T salt
1T minced garlic
3 T chopped parsley
half of a yellow onion, chopped
1 T baking soda
1/2 T cumin
1/2 T hot sauce
1/2 c water
Oil for frying
extra cumin and salt to final sprinkling of finished falafel)

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. This is the falafel mix. (And no, you do not cook the beans before this stage. Yeah, I was unsure about this factor too. But the more I looked at different recipes online, the more common it seemed. I also read that it is a lot easier to make falafel when you use dried garbanzo beans that have been soaked instead of canned chickpeas. So this is what we did. Also, I would suggest upping the spices a little bit. We found that it was not quite up to our liking, but I left the original amounts in there for your own decrement).

In an electric skillet, heat about a 1/2 inch of oil to 350 degrees.

Scoop up a portion of the falafel mix and form it into a ball. Flatten it slightly by patting the top. Drop it carefully into the oil once the oil is hot. The falafel is ready when the color turns a golden brown (maybe around 3-5 minutes on each side). Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and cumin.

Serve in warm pita (or naan in our case) with yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Source: NPR (weird, but true)

Yogurt Sauce

1 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 t cumin
1 T fresh lemon juice
minced parsly
salt as needed

Mix together and chill until ready to use.

Source: The Food Network