My first taste of a falafel was way back in the day! Growing up in the San Fernando Valley (an area of Los Angeles) my friends and I would take a drive "over the hill" to Westwood on Friday or Saturday night. The reason we loved spending a weekend night there was because the main street was lined with restaurants and the street was closed to traffic. Pedestrians only! Great eateries along the way... small and large, fancy or rustic. Each one giving us a sample of what makes that area a melting pot of people and cuisines.
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We'd always pass by one spot specializing in Mediterranean food. Tempted to try a falafel, my best friends and I went for it! Not sure what we'd think, we decided to share one! Hooked ever since, it's now a favorite! Just a few ingredients needed, all easy to find. A deep fried ball of ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans) a falafel can be eaten as a snack or appetizer. Some have it as a light meal in pita bread.
Or all wrapped up in a flatbread (or "lafa") add some lettuce, cucumber and tomato! With a little drizzle of tahini dressing, you'll be as happy as I was on the streets of Westwood. To give it a little more authenticity, spread Kyle's Baba Ganoush on the bread or use it as a dip. With or without pita or "lafa", I bet the combination of flavors will send your tastebuds soaring.
P.S. I don't share my falafel anymore!
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, (or canned chickpeas, drained)
- ½ large large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ to 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 - 6 Tablespoons flour
- Soybean or vegetable oil for frying
- Chopped tomato for garnish
- Diced onion for garnish
- Diced green bell pepper for garnish
- Diced cucumbers
- Pickled turnips, optional (available in Middle Eastern markets)
- Tahini, (ground sesame seeds, available at local markets and Middle Eastern markets)
- Pita bread
- *Place chickpeas in a large bowl and add cold water, enough to cover by 2 inches. Soak overnight. Drain. Alternatively, use canned drained and rinsed chickpeas.
- Place the drained canned, (or uncooked) chickpeas and onions in a food processor.
- Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not too much where they're pureed.
- Sprinkle the baking powder and 4 Tablespoons of the flour into the food processor bowl and pulse. Add flour as needed, adding enough flour so that the dough can be formed into a small ball and no longer so wet or sticking to your hands.
- Transfer mixture into a bowl and refrigerate, if you can, covered for several hours. Alternatively chill covered in freezer for 15 minutes.
- Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of a walnut.
- Heat 3 inches of oil to 375º in a deep pot or a wok. Fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little more flour. When mixture consistency is ready, fry about 6 balls at a time for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
- Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Serve as an appetizer with the garnishes. To make a meal: Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahini thinned with water and/or hummus.