Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Falafel (Chickpea Cutlets)


Picking a main course this week was a little difficult for us because of the huge number of choices that came up when searching for Lebanese main course recipes. In the end, we decided to limit the choices by trying to control our pockets, picking something healthy, and of course, something simple that could easily be made in our kitchen that isn't fantastically equipped--especially now that I melted the grinder away... Falafel was the obvious choice.


As with the hummus that I posted about a couple of days ago, though, a majority of the recipes for falafel called for a food processor. An immersion blender wouldn't help this time either because the mixture needed to have that little bit of crunchiness while making a dough that could be shaped into patties and balls that wouldn't break off in the oil. Without a thought, then, I had to bring out the trusty ole potato masher again. After not having seen the light of day for months, I'm sure it was pretty happy to be smashing away softened chickpeas for half the afternoon (okay, 10 minutes).


The balls from the first batch that I pan-fried (instead of the usual deep frying) were a little under-cooked in the center because I had forgotten to turn the heat down and was afraid the surface would burn. But, once fixed, we made a bunch of very nice, crisp and fresh tasting falafel that I'm sure will be made again soon! By putting them in pita pockets with a bit of lettuce, red onion, tomato and hummus, they made for a great main course, but of course, could've been eaten on their own as a snack too.

Ease of Cooking Yummy Factor Apprx. Cost
HK$20 (US$2.5)
Ingredients (Serves 3)
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs fresh parsley, minced
3 tbs fresh coriander, minced
3 tbs plain flour
1 tsp cumin, ground
Salt and Pepper
Oil for frying

Directions
Drain chickpeas and discard the water.
Combine chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, 2tbsp flour, cumin, salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl.
Mash all the ingredients together until they're all well mixed and reach a thick paste like consistency.
Form small golf ball sized balls from the mixture. I prefer to flatten them a little bit at this stage because I prefer to pan fry rather than deep fry.
Heat about half an inch of oil in a frying pan. Turn the heat down to a low setting and fry the patties.
Turn them over every minute to make sure they cook thoroughly and don't burn.
When they're golden brown and crispy on both sides (about 3-5 minutes each), scoop them out and place them on a kitchen towel to rest and drain access oil.
Serve hot on a bed of lettuce, onions and tomatoes with tahini or hummus! Sprinkle a bit of lemon juice on top if desired (we didn't).