Given that the Super Bowl has come and gone, I wonder how many deep fryers were used and abused in the name of football fever. Chicken wings aren’t the only vessels for crispy treats. While I don’t normally fry many items, there is one weakness that my family loves, and that is falafel. Hello, ground chickpeas — please meet garlic, parsley, onion and cumin. Vegetarian touchdown!
My family loves when I make these – especially tucked into toasty mini pitas, redolent of tahini (sesame seed paste), tomatoes and cucumber. Hot sauce andor pickled veggies are optional. Making the mix ahead of time is simple (soak the chick peas), and everything just gets blitzed in the food processor, so work involved = next to nothing.
Feel Good Falafel
1 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1÷2−1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
4–6 tablespoons flour
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying
Chopped tomato for garnish
Diced onion for garnish
Diced green bell pepper for garnish
Tahina sauce — sesame sauce
Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain.
Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about t the size of golf balls.
Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. If you were too gun shy to fry, make the patties thinner and pan fry them.
Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.
Deep frying is something that is both groovy and yet something to watch over. Use canola/vegetable oil (not olive oil, as it will break down quickly, and is a lot more expensive) and bring it to 325F. Using an oil/candy thermometer is the best way to gauge the temperature. And be careful! Putting the oil in a thick bottomed pot is best, and with the wee ones around, put it on the back burner(s) to avoid accidents.
Chef Dad Note: Please re-use the oil – cool and strain into plastic containers and put into the fridge. When you’re ready to eventually toss the oil, place in plastic containers and put in your garbage bin. Don’t toss down the drain. Feel free to make sweet potato chips with that extra frying oil. (Yum!)