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Dish of the Week: Falafel

Eat the fritters as is or stuff them inside a fluffy pita.
Eat the fritters as is or stuff them inside a fluffy pita.
Photo by stu_spivack

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for everyone's favorite chickpea dish (well, besides hummus), falafel.

A traditional Middle Eastern street food, falafel is basically a chickpea fritter. Chickpeas ( sometimes with a mix of fava beans) are ground and mixed with spices, herbs, and often onions, garlic, and flour before being formed into a ball or patty and deep-fried until golden-brown and crisp.

Though the origin of the dish remains unclear, some say it originated some 1,000 years ago in Egypt, where it was used as a replacement for meat during Lent.

The dish can be eaten alone as a mezze (appetizer) or served in a salad or pita along with veggies, hot sauce, and a drizzle of creamy tahini. The word falafel, said to have derived from the Arabic word falāfi, meaning peppers, can refer to either the fritter or the pita sandwich stuffed with the fritters.

This recipe uses cumin, coriander, and a pinch of cayenne to give the fried patties a kick. Serve it with tahini sauce and a dash of hot sauce. Of course, if it's carbs you're craving, you can stuff all of the above into a warm pita with some pickled vegetables, lettuce and tomato.

Ingredients yields 1 dozen fritters

For the falafel: 1 cup dry chickpeas 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed 1 tbsp flour 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste 1/4 tsp pepper, plus more to taste Pinch cayenne pepper 1/4 cup fresh parsley 1/4 cup fresh mint or cilantro Vegetable, canola or peanut oil, for frying

For tahini sauce *recipe from Saad Fayed 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste) 3 gloves garlic, crushed 1/2 tsp kosher salt 2 tbsp olive oil 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped

Directions

To make the falafel batter: Pick through dried chickpeas to remove any broken shells or pieces. Place in a large bowl and cover with 3-4 inches of water. Allow to soak overnight (about 12 hours). Drain and rinse well.

Add chickpeas to a food processor along with the remainder of the ingredients. Pulse until mixture is combined and a coarse paste is formed, scraping the sides as you go. If needed, add a bit of water to make the mixture hold together. Allow to rest while you make tahini sauce.

For tahini sauce:

In a food processor, combine garlic and tahini. Add kosher salt.

Remove from food processor and add olive oil and lemon juice. If too thick, add a teaspoon of warm water until desired consistency.

Mix in chopped fresh parsley.

To fry:

Heat about 3 inches of oil in a dutch oven or deep skillet until oil is about 350 degrees.

Scoop 1-2 tbsp of the mixture and use your hands to form the mixture into 1 ½ - 2 inch balls or patties, pressing tightly so mixture stays firm.

Use a slotted spoon to lower the balls into the oil one at a time, being careful not to overcrowd so the temperature up. Fry, turning, until crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to towels to drain.

Serve hot with tahini sauce.

See more Dishes of the Week: Dish of the Week: Coq Au Vin Dish of the Week: Argentine Chimichurri Dish of the Week: Flourless Chocolate Cake Dish of the Week: New England Clam Chowder Dish of the Week: Beef Stroganoff Dish of the Week: Hushpuppies Dish of the Week: Irish Soda Bread Dish of the Week: Pastitsio Dish of the Week: Chicken Tikka Masala Dish of the Week: The Cuban Sandwich Dish of the Week: Chicken and Chorizo Empanadas Dish of the Week: Potato Kugel Dish of the Week: Korean Fried Chicken Dish of the Week: Wiener Schnitzel Dish of the Week: Mexican Chilaquiles


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