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August 1, 2012

Falafel

Great in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, and tahini sauce

Patrick Farrell/The New York Times' Diner's Journal blog

  • Serve falafel as a sandwich in pita bread or as a crunchy, protein-filled entree. Michelle Riley/HSUS

Serves 6 - 8

1 3/4 cups (395g) dried chickpeas (or use 5 1/4 cups (300g) of canned chickpeas)
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 small onion, quartered
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 scant teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 cup (225g) chopped parsley or cilantro (coriander)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon lemon juice
flour, as needed
neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for frying
tahini sauce

First, keep the amount of water you use when grinding the beans to an absolute minimum. More water makes grinding easier, but it also virtually guarantees that the batter will fall apart when it hits the hot oil. If this happens, bind the remaining mixture by stirring in a little flour.

The second essential step is to get the oil hot enough: 350 F (175 C) or a little higher. If you don't have a thermometer, just wait until the oil shimmers and then add a pinch of the batter. When it sizzles immediately, sinks about halfway to the bottom, then rises to the top, the oil is ready. If it sinks and stays down, the oil is too cold; if it doesn't sink at all, the oil is too hot.

1. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover them with water by 3 or 4 inches; they will triple in volume. Soak for 24 hours, adding water if needed to keep the beans submerged. (Alternatively, you can use 5 1/4 cups (300g) of canned chickpeas and start with the next step, although this is less authentic.)

2. Drain the beans well, reserving the soaking water, and transfer them to a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and tahini sauce; pulse until minced but not pureed, scraping the sides of the bowl down. Add some of the soaking water if necessary to allow the machine to do its work, but no more than 1 or 2 tablespoons. Keep pulsing until the mixture comes together. Taste, adding salt, pepper, cayenne, or lemon juice to taste.

3. Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan to a depth of at least 2 inches; more is better. The narrower the saucepan the less oil you need, but the more oil you use the more patties you can cook at a time. Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil to about 350 F (175 C), when a pinch of batter will sizzle immediately.

4. Scoop up heaping tablespoons of batter and shape them into balls or small patties. Fry in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary; total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes.

Serve hot or at room temperature with pita bread, tahini sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Recipe adapted from The New York Times' Diner's Journal blog by Patrick Farrell.

Nutrition

(All figures are per serving, assuming 7 servings, and excluding flour as needed and oil for frying.)

Calories: 115
Fat: 2 grams
Fiber: 15 grams
Carbs: 31 grams
Protein: 8.5 grams
Sodium: 116 mg

Read more from the Guide to Meat-Free Meals

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