Falafel

I love falafel but always found the pre-cooking of chickpeas time consuming and using tinned ones never produced falafel with the right texture, they’re great for veggie burgers though.

This recipe uses dried (raw) chickpeas and whilst they do need soaking over night they don’t need pre-cooking to produce light fluffy textured falafel. Simply pulse them with rest of the ingredients, chill mixture for an hour or so, form it into balls and fry for few minutes each side.  Job  (or should that be falafel) done! Makes about ten good sized falafels.

The flavour intensities depend on the fresh herbs used, so go with the ones you like best or perhaps grow. Cooking should always be about experimentation and adapting recipes to fit you.

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home grown herbs and spices & soaked chickpeas

 

Ingredients

  • 250g dried chickpeas – soaked over night in large bowl of water (chickpeas will expand so need room). Important – ensure at least 7.5cm of water above level of chickpeas.
  • One handful each of freshly picked herbs such as lemon balm, apple mint and chives along with a large handful of ransoms (wild garlic).
  • 1 large dried chilli (omit if don’t like it or use fresh instead … just happened to have dried one to hand)
  • 5 – 8 garlic cloves (depending on size of cloves and how much like garlic – I love it!!)
  • Few grinds of salt and quite a few of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (tbsp) plain flour

Here’s what you do:

Drain the chick peas and rinse with plenty of fresh water, allow to drain and dry thoroughly. Pour them into your food processor along with the chopped garlic cloves, fresh herbs roughly chopped, chilli, flour, salt and black pepper.

Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms. Scrape the sides of the processor periodically and push the mixture down the sides. Process till the mixture is a paste-like consistency as you want the mixture to hold together … but don’t over-process or might end up with hummus!

Once the mixture is desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and stir with a fork to even the texture throughout. If necessary remove any large chickpea chunks that the processor missed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

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ingredients pulsed to coarse paste-like consistency & forked through

Fill a skillet (or heavy based frying pan) to a depth of 1 ½ inches with vegetable oil with a high smoke point. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat.

Meanwhile, form falafel mixture into round balls or patties using wet hands. About 2 tbsp of mixture per falafel is about right or you can make them smaller or larger depending on your personal preference. The balls will stick together loosely at first and be quite delicate, but will hold together nicely once they begin to fry.

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chilled, formed & ready for frying

Before frying your first batch of falafel, fry a test one in the center of the pan. If the oil is at the right temperature, it will take 2-3 minutes per side to brown (4-6 minutes total). If it browns faster, your oil is too hot and your falafels will not be fully cooked in the center. Cool the oil down slightly and try again.

When the oil is at the right temperature, fry the falafels in batches of 4-6 at a time till golden brown on both sides…. remember that’s 2-3 minutes per side.

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falafel briefly draining on paper towel

Once the falafels are fried, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon and let them drain on paper towels.

Serve the falafels fresh and hot – or they will lose their fluffy texture. Try them with homemade hummus and seasonal grilled vegetables, your favourite salad or simply stuff them into a warmed pitta with whatever accompaniments you fancy.

Troubleshooting tips:

Ball won’t stick together: place the mixture back in the processor again and continue processing to make it more paste-like. If they still won’t hold together, you can try adding 2-3 tbsp of flour to the mixture. If they still won’t hold, add 1-2 eggs to the mix.

Falafel is too hard/too crunchy: you either didn’t process the mixture enough and it needs to be more paste-like. The oil was too hot, they browned too fast and weren’t cooked through or the chickpeas you used were old.

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