I remember the first time I ever made falafel. Our friends brought over all the ingredients; we blended them together in our food processor, rolled and fried away, and could not stop eating them. I like to think of falafel as fried savory donut holes that count as dinner. But if fried donut holes don’t immediately emote a picture of health for you, consider this alternative: baked chickpea vegetarian nuggets. Any better? All this to say, I will give you two ways to prepare your falafel, fried or baked.
I usually find an excuse to eat falafel at any time of the day or with any meal- I’ll even break them up and mix them in with my scrambled eggs. You can add them to a salad, or more “traditionally,” eat them in a pita with veggies and tzatziki sauce. These are incredibly filling and delicious! I’ve added a little bit of spice and upped the garlic (no surprises there), but you can play around with the recipe and make it your own.
FALAFEL WITH TZATZIKI SAUCE
adapted from Melissa d’Arabian on the Food Network
makes approximately 20, one and a half inch falafel balls
approximately 2 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained and dried
4 green onions, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (1/2 for less heat, 3/4 for medium spice)
heaping 1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
heaping 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
all-purpose flour (or gluten-free substitute) as needed to thicken batter, plus 1/3 cup for coating the falafel
canola oil, for frying (not needed if you are going to bake the falafel)
3/4 cups (173g) full fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup (60g) full fat sour cream
1/2 cup grated cucumber (not peeled, but de-seeded after cutting in half lengthwise)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
sea salt and pepper to taste
pita bread, cut in half
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F if you are going to bake the falafel instead of frying. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing lightly or lining with parchment paper.
Blend together all falafel ingredients (except flour and canola oil) in a large food processor until grainy. Do not pulse until smooth, the falafel will turn out very dense. You do not need your batter to be smooth. If the dough seems sticky, add a little flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix. If you have the time, refrigerate the batter for 30 min before forming the falafel balls.
Scoop 1/3 cup flour onto a plate or shallow bowl. Form falafel batter into approximately 1.5 inch rounds and roll lightly in the flour to coat the outside. TIP: Because the batter is fairly wet, I find it’s easier to scoop some batter with a spoon and drop it into the flour before attempting to roll into a ball.
BAKED FALAFEL: Place falafel on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 min, flipping them over halfway through. They should be golden brown when finished cooking.
FRIED FALAFEL: Pour canola oil into a sturdy fry pan until it is 1/2 inch deep. Heat* the oil over medium-high for 5-10 minutes. Fry the falafel for 3-4 minutes on each side and place on a plate to cool.
To ASSEMBLE: Mix your tzatziki sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the falafel in a pita (or otherwise) with toppings of choice.
*The frying temperature of canola oil is roughly 350 to 375 degrees F. You can use a thermometer, or go “rouge” like I do and just let your oil heat for 5-10 minutes before using.