Falafel is a popular snack and main dish from the Middle East. It's eaten in many countries nowadays, as an increasingly common and well-loved part of international streetfood cuisine. It's a tasty and savoury vegetarian, and even vegan, snack that's nutritious and filling. Since it combines a legume (chick peas) with a grain (wheat) it contains valuable proteins.
The barebones base of a falafel sandwich consists of the falafel itself and the pita bread. What then truly makes it great are the greens, the trimmings and the sauces. They will all be discussed in this Instructable.
Step 1: Gather your ingredients
Note: If you do not like or do not react well to cilantro, you might as well stop reading here.
For the falafel itself:
- 1 kilo dried chick peas
- Some chick pea flour, in case of wetness
- 1 pack of baking powder
- Fresh cilantro (a handful)
- Fresh parsley (same)
- Ground cilantro
- Ground cumin
- Optional: cilantro seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar
- Garlic (fresh or powdered)
- Salt and pepper
- Oil for deep frying
- Pita bread (30 to 40 depending on size)
Greens, trimmings and sauces will be listed in their own respective steps.
Step 2: Before we start:
- The chick peas need to be soaked in water for at least 10 hours. So be sure to buy them ahead of time and put them in water the night before you intend to make your falafel.
Just before beginning:
- Preheat your oven for the pita bread (see packaging).
- Fire up your deep fryer. 180 C is a good temperature.
- Find a hungry friend or two and set them to work on step 5, 6 and 7.
The kitchen can be a dangerous place. Use safety gear as needed.
Step 3: Here we go
They do not need to get all smooth and homogenous; it's fine, and even preferrable, if they retain some graininess for structure and bite. It's okay of some of them remain whole, too.
Now transfer the dough into a large bowl or pot so you can add the other ingredients.
It's too small. Transfer it to a bigger one.
Now add: at least a spoonful of ground cumin and cilantro.
Then: baking powder, salt, pepper and garlic (crushed or powdered). No, I'm not going to give you precise amounts. Wing it, young grasshopper.
Chop up your parsley and cilantro leaves, and add those, too. Mix it all. Kneading may be the easiest way. Add a spot of water if you think you need it, but be careful, as it's easy to overdo it.
Step 4: Things get hot
Your dough is done, your deep fryer is at the right temperature?
Make sure you have a bowl of water handy to rinse your hands in, between kneading and baking. You'll be doing it often.
Form a dough ball the size of a walnut, but sligtly flattened. Yes, with your hands, silly. Try to make it firm.
Gently lower it into the oil.
- Does it fall apart? Your dough may be too wet. Add some chick pea flour.
- Does it need more flavourings? This is the time to add them.
But wait! Something's missing... yes, in fact three things are missing: the ever-important extras. Greens, Trimmings and Sauces.
Step 5: Greens
The bare minimum is
- lettuce. Iceberg works well. Just wash, chop and serve.
- bell peppers
Step 6: Trimmings
- olives, black and green, no pits
- hot pickled peppers
- pickled vegetables
- cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Step 7: Sauces
- garlic (the bare minimum)
- sweet chili
- tahina (sesame paste)
- sambal (Indonesian style chili sauce)
- yogurt-based mint sauce