4. April 2013

Falafel, Baby!

Is there any vegetarian fast food that is more popular than falafel? I guess not.
Please forgive my boldness, but I am very much in love with those crisp little balls that come with salad, mint yoghurt and pita bread. It is my go-to food every time I am on the any kind of fair or market. My pre-falafel-fair-times were quite sad. All I could get were sausages with fries, fries with sausages, huge XXL-meat-things, greasy Chinese fried noodles and so on…I won’t say that Indian food and falafel aren’t greasy, but I’ll accept that in favor of my own well-being. Let’s get back to the falafel.
Not every falafel  you get at a market stall is a good falafel.  So keep your eyes open for the stall with the longest queue. I try to persuade myself that this is a good sign. And up till now my technique has worked reasonalby well.
I prefer my falafel balls spicy, hot and topped with a unreasonable amount sauce.
Drench the damn thing in a flood of sauce, Baby!

The only problem? The act of eating. I am by no means made for finger food or anything you eat stuffed into a piece of bread. Oh, no that’s not quite right. I do well with “butter-stuffed” bread. No dripping, licking, cursing. But the falafel thing…It’s a challenge, my friends, so roll up your sleeves before eating!
I’ve found that a falafel is best eating while standing in front of a high table, slightly bend forward to prevent dripping sauce from messing up your pants (or/and shoes). Always let sauce drip on the table. Also, don’t eat a falafel alone, always bring along a person of trust to hand you a napkin whenever needed and maybe wipes away any sauce the has found its way onto the tip of your nose.

How to deal with mushy bread? Hmm…Besides gulping down the whole thing with 2 bites, I have no solution to this problem, yet. No, wait. I have. Use salad or cabbage leaves instead of bread. They don’t get mushy. And they are even healthier than good old pita bread. Maybe I should also note that the salad version is equally delicious!
If you prefer the pita bread version, go ahead! Maybe you can give me some advice concerning the problems mentioned above.

The recipe:
This was the second time I made falafel at home. The first trial was a fail, since the falafel was too dry and got very crumbly the next day.
In my humble opinion, they worked out great on the second trial. They stayed soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. Perfect!
Since I don’t eat deep-fried stuff at home, I prepared the falafel in the oven.
Zero points for access oil and ten points for your health. 5 Points for authenticity, maybe? Well, I don’t care if not;). They are yummy, that's what counts.
I served the falafel balls with lots of herb-tahini sauce, tomatoes, avocado, some cooked rice and cress. Of course, you could also add cucumber, lentils, sliced onions or whatever vegetable you prefer to stuff into your mouth. I think, they’ll all taste delicious!

Falafel, Baby

Ingredients (makes 16):

¼ cup mint leaves , not packed
½ cup parsley, not packed
1/2 cup coarsly chopped almonds
2 cups (325g) cooked chickpeas
1 Tbsp spelt flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp Fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet and set aside.
Blend herbs in a food processor until finely chopped. Add almonds, chickpeas and garlic and mix for a few more seconds until combined. Then add remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Season to taste.
Roll falafel dough into small balls (approx. 16) and place on the lined baking sheet. Bake them at 175°C for 30 minutes. Turn the balls several times to allow even browning.

Tahini Sauce

2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp dill, mint or cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Fleur de sel, cayenne to taste
Water as needed (about ¼ cup)

Blend all ingredients with a handheld blender or food processor until bright green. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency. The sauce should be drippy.

Mint Yoghurt

Ingredients (makes approx. 1 cup):

200g sheep’s milk yoghurt (use soy, if you are vegan)
Mint leaves to taste, minced
Squeeze of lemon juice
Fleur de sel (about 1 tsp or to taste) and freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour to let the mint flavor intensify.

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