Quite often, a friend of ours hosts an elaborate “themed” gathering. Last year was an authentic Polynesian affair that even included an imu (an underground oven heated with coals and lava rocks) where he cooked kalua pig. Not to be outdone, this year’s festivities was chosen to feature a Middle Eastern theme. And yes, he also made his own grill/cooking device this year, too.
My first inclination was to create some type of dessert to add to the party but I quickly decided against it, as many of the guests are quite accomplished bakers themselves. I then turned my attention to trying to make Falafels. Mmmm….Falafels.
Found throughout Egypt and the Middle East, Falafels are small patties/balls of ground chickpeas and spices that are deep fried. I absolutely LOVE them and if you’re in the San Jose, California area, you MUST stop by the famed Falafel Drive In to get some.
For our gathering, I did some research and settled upon a recipe from The Noshery, with some minor edits. I also decided to serve the Falafels as an appetizer/side dish with a Tahini dipping sauce. I usually like them in a pita bread but since we were going to have TONS of other dishes, this option seemed more fitting.
I am happy to report that the end results were pretty tasty. Using our friend’s electric deep fryer made the whole cooking process a breeze! However next time, I think I will up the ante on some of the seasonings. Definitely more garlic and perhaps coriander? Also, I’d like to keep the chickpeas mixture a little more coarse next time for added texture. I should also mention that since the Falafels are fried, they may not be so great as leftovers. It’s best to make only what will be consumed in a short time span.
Overall, the Falafels were quite fitting for our fun themed gathering. I can only imagine what’s in store for our next party. Brazilian? Argentinian? Mongolian? Ahhh…the Options are Endless.
Falafel with Tahini Sauce
Adapted from The Noshery
1 Cup Dried Chickpeas
½ Large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2-1 Teaspoon Dried Hot Red Pepper
4 Garlic Cloves
1 ½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
4-6 Tablespoons flour
3 Garlic Cloves
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Cup Tahini
1/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
½ Teaspoon Lemon Zest
¼ Cup Water
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
¼ Teaspoon Ground Cumin
Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain.
Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
While the Falafel mixture is chilling, prepare Tahini Sauce. Using a fine grater, grate garlic into a bowl. Whisk in Tahini, Lemon Juice, Water, and Olive Oil. Add salt, zest, cumin, parsley and cilantro. Combine until well. Refrigerate until serving time.
Pull Falafel mixture from refrigerator and form into small balls about the size of walnuts (approximately 2 tablespoons). Heat oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot (or deep fryer) and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with Tahini Sauce.