The last stop on our Israeli food tour is the beloved lunch staple, the falefel. If you’ve never tried falafel before, you’re in for a treat. You can often find these deep-fried chick pea balls at ethnic restaurants and food carts in larger cities. Next time you’re out on the town, grab a pita full of falafel, top it with whatever array of pickles and vegetables they’re offering and a dollop of tzatziki sauce for the perfect lunch.
Falafel is made from uncooked chickpeas that have been ground with spices and a little baking powder. Use canned chickpeas if you must, but the texture may be not be right and you may need to add more flour to get them to bind together properly when frying. I am partial to my counter top fryer if only for the fact that I do not have to spend half an hour wiping grease out of every crevice of my stovetop and the surrounding area when I’m done cooking.
Adapted from The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan
1 cup dried chickpeas (or use canned, drained)
½ large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
4-6 Tbsp flour
Vegetable oil for frying
sliced or chopped tomatoes
1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least two inches. Let soak overnight, and then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
2. 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, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended, but not pureed.
3. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 Tbsp 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.
5. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 ° in a deep pot, wok, or fryer. Fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. When both oil and batter are ready, fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, any desired toppings and some tzatziki sauce.