Friday, May 7, 2010

Falafel Craving

When my little one was still in the midst of her picky toddler phase, my mom picked up a copy of Healthy Meals for Babies & Toddlers to inspire me. I was immediately intrigued by a recipe for falafel. Spicy with a bit of crunch, these traditionally deep-fried garbanzo bean fritters are stuffed into pita bread and drizzled with a cool, creamy yogurt sauce.

I have fond memories of walking into Westwood Village for a little Middle Eastern brain food during my college days, and once I read the recipe I was seized by a craving for falafel so of course, I had to give it a try.

I checked out a few recipes online first to compare ingredients - spices, in particular - and techniques. I liked the recipe in the book because it called for pan-frying the falafel, rather than deep-frying them, which can be messy and not exactly healthy. I fiddled with the recipe a bit, using dried chickpeas soaked overnight rather than the canned stuff, and threw in red pepper flakes for more flavor. I also borrowed Guy Fieri's recipe for yogurt sauce.

I ended up making this dish twice. The first time, the patties didn't hold up well in the frying pan, so I tried adding an egg to help bind the batter and it worked like a charm. I also found it helpful to make sure the pan was very hot before frying the falafel, and I cooked them almost to the brink of burning. This gave the patties a crispy layer that held them together as well as a satisfying crunch.

Oh, and by the way, Emi loved this dish.

Falafel with Yogurt Sauce

For Falafel:
2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/4 onion
2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 egg
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

For Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tbsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp. cumin

In a small bowl, combine yogurt sauce ingredients and mix well. Let chill in refrigerator.

Combine falafel ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Heat a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in a frying pan until it is shimmering. Using a cookie-dough scoop or a spoon, drop several scoops into the hot pan and flatten slightly with the back of the scoop.

Cook for three to five minutes. Once the edges are a golden brown, use a spatula to get a look at the bottoms and if they're a rich, crunchy, brown, flip them over and cook the other sides.

Serve inside warm pita bread and drizzle with plenty of yogurt sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment