Falafels!! Tasty fried veggie morsels, served in a pita (or a lettuce wrap for those carb conscious foodies). It can be served as an appetizer or as an entree.
I had always heard of falafels but I never tried one. I saw cooking shows touting falafels, saw them in restaurants but I never had the urge to try one. Finally, one day Baby Lady and I were at a Mediterranean restaurant and she wanted a falafel, so we bought some. They were OK but nothing special. Then we saw Bobby Flay’s Food Network show Throwdown where he was doing a throwdown with a former employee, Einat Admony, owner of Taim Falafel and Smoothie bar, who was the Queen of Falafel in NYC. Watching the show I became a little more intrigued about falafels. Einat Admony made her beautiful falafels which looked so much better than the ones Baby Lady and I had tried. Intrigued, I set out on a quest for a good falafel recipe. There are a ton of them out there. Personally, I like the combination of fresh lava beans and dried chickpeas (garbanzos) for making falafels. To me the flavor is fresher and the falafel is more tender and lighter.
I like garbanzo beans. I have eaten them since I was a child in salads and soups. As I got older and exposed to ethnic foods I found that garbanzos were called chickpeas and eaten in many Mediterranean foods. I love the meatiness of the beans and their mild flavor. Humus is one of my favorite appetizers. While I had seen, bought and fixed chickpeas, I had never seen fresh garbanzos. Imagine my surprise when I was at our local Mediterranean market last week and found fresh garbanzos.
Once I saw them, I had to buy them. No and, ifs or buts. And then right next to them were fresh lava beans! I was thrilled and knew what I was going to do. Falafels. This would be a new experience with fresh garbanzos (chickpeas). Not only was it a new experience, it was a new learning endeavor and learn I did. Typically, when I use dried, rehydrated chickpeas I don’t use flour. The chickpeas are dry enough to bind together. With the fresh garbanzos the mix was too wet so I had to incorporate 1 cup of flour to absorb the extra wetness of the garbanzos so the falafel would fry and not fall apart. It was tricky but I did get it down and they were wonderful. Here is what we did.
For the Falafel
- 1 cup fava beans, shelled and skinned
- 1 cup garbanzos, shelled
- 1 cup flour
- 1 medium onion
- 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp coriander seed, ground
- 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
- 1 tsp baking soda
For the Tahini Sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- sea salt to taste
Instructions: For the Tahini Sauce – Crush and mince the garlic. Add the salt and stir to incorporate. Slowly add the tahini stirring constantly until incorporated. Now slowly add the yogurt stirring constantly to prevent lumping. Add the lemon juice and stir to incorporate. Adjust salt as needed. Set aside until ready to serve.
For the Falafel – Shell the garbanzos and fava beans. Once you get the fava beans shelled, you mist peel the outer waxy skin from the bean.
When the garbanzos and fava beans have been shelled and peeled, place them in a grinder with the smallest screen, along with the onion roughly chopped and garlic. You will run this mix through the grinder twice.
Add the parsley, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, flour, baking soda and salt and stir well to incorporate.
Let sit for 30 minutes. Shape a Tablespoon of a mix at a time into balls, then lightly press them into patties. Leave them on a tray for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, heat a skillet with oil. Add the falafels to the hot oil and cook for roughly 3 minutes per side so they brown evenly.
Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve as a hot appetizer with the tahini sauce or in a pita with the tahini sauce, lettuce, tomato and pickle, as pictured above. Alternatively, if you are watching your carb intake, serve on a lettuce wrap with the tahini sauce, tomato, and pickle. Enjoy!