I can’t believe that I had never tried falafel until I was vegan. Then again, I have certainly expanded my food repertoire since coming to the dark side 😉 and falafel is one of those foods that I wish I hadn’t waited so long to try. Crispy, flavorful, slightly spicy and just plain amazing!
My kids will tell you that I have struggled to craft the best falafel formula…until now. Behold, the Perfect Falafel Recipe!
Many of my previous attempts focused on creating a “dough” that would hold together. I added white flour, garbanzo bean flour. I tried making it drier by squeezing out the mixture, only to watch it crumble in the pan. I even tried coating it in panko…all with the focus of creating a crispy patty that holds together while frying.
In the end, the perfect falafel recipe embodies two key ideas. One, you MUST start with dry chickpeas soaked overnight. There’s no way around it. Just plan ahead, because the added time is about two minutes- to rinse and then cover the garbanzo beans with water- and 4-24 hours before you’re ready to get down with it. Two, you MUST be gentle. I’ll explain in a bit.
First, soak those beans…at least 4 hours (overnight is fine).
Soaking improves digestion and aids in the absorption of other nutrients in the falafel. (see Sound Bites in the recipe for more fun chickpea facts). Again, DON”T USE CANNED! Canned chickpeas are partially cooked and have lost some good ol’ starchy binding power (which I tried unsuccessfully to replace with flour in previous attempts). Dry, then soaked garbanzos, impart a fresher taste and make for a perfectly fluffy and cohesive patty.
Second, a gentle, child-like touch is all that’s needed to form the perfect falafel. Think back to your youth, when a bucket of sand and a little water would provide hours of fun and creativity. Did you ever make patties or cakes or cookies with wet sand? You’d scoop a little out, pat it in your palm and flip back and forth with both hands and, voila!, your sand-cake would be ready. Well, I found that by channeling this technique I could form a falafel that stayed fluffy, crispy and most importantly, TOGETHER!
You can see in the above picture that the garbanzo beans are pulsed in the food processor to tiny gravel sized pieces, not into a paste like you would for hummus.
Once formed, the falafel are cooked in oil (I used grapeseed) for about 3-4 minutes a side:
I made a bunch and kept them in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Jack was a big fan…he had his on a pita with cucumbers and a little tzatziki, recipe courtesy www.neuroticmommy.com.
If you decide to plate these, they are delicious with a side of saffron rice and veggies.
AND…leftovers are wonderful! I popped a few in the toaster oven, straight from the fridge, and toasted for 3 minutes. YUM!