Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Baked Falafel

So last night, my cooking buddy was in the mood for falafel. He wasn't interested in the deep fried version, the kind that you often find at Mediterranean restaurants and is oh so good. I adore falafel and used it eat all the time in Chicago at this local restaurant where I could make a whole meal out of it for a mere $3, including a nice salad.

Anyway, he found a recipe for baked falafel and set my expectations correctly by saying that this was probably going to be nothing like what you get when you go out. With my expectations set, we gave the recipe a go. I didn't know falafel had peanut butter as an ingredient?! Perhaps it's just this recipe?

Makes 4 servings
Time: 50 minutes

-2 cups chickpeas, drained
-4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
-3 tbsp peanut butter
-1 green onion, chopped
-1 onion, cut into chunks
-1 egg
-1/4 tsp ground coriander
-1/4 tsp ground cumin
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 tbsp soy sauce
-1 tbsp vegetable oil

Well, don't do what I did. The oil is for the frying part -- it is not an ingredient for the falafels themselves. Even if you do add it, no worries.

In a food processor or blender, puree chickpeas. To the chickpeas, add garlic, peanut butter, green onion, onion, egg, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and soy sauce. Process until well mixed. Truthfully, we added all these ingredients to the chickpeas before pureeing the chickpeas. Why wait when those suckers have to be pureed to begin with.

The original recipe calls for shaping the mix into balls (about a tbsp for each ball) but since these aren't being deep fried, I think it's a poor suggestion. Instead, use a tbsp of batter to make a little pancake. This will allow the falafel took cook evenly, inside and out.

The recipe also suggests cooking on medium-high heat but I found that doing that made the outsides cook too quickly before the batter heated through in the middle. Instead, use medium-low so that it cooks slowly, allows the outside to brown nicely and cooks through on the inside. You may add oil to the frying pan but we didn't and they turned out just fine. I would definitely recommend a non-stick skillet.

Much to my surprise, the falafel were easy to make and tasty. But he was right, it doesn't taste or look like what you would get in a restaurant but it is reminiscent and a lot healthier. It was a touch heavy on the peanut butter but still good. We ate these with pita, lettuce, and some raita which mitigated the peanut butter. It was really wholesome and satisfying. I'm looking forward to leftovers tonight.


Dustin J. Mitchell said...

Hmm, looks tasty! What a perfect complement to pita!

Nirmala said...

Falafel is a perfect complement to a pita. I used whole wheat pita that I toasted. The crunch/crispyness that is lacking in the falafel is made up with the toasted pita and some crunchy lettuce.