Galganov's Free Recipe for the
Let's go make some fantastic felafels!
This falafel platter is prepared with: top-left - Pita, top-right - Felafel with tahini sauce, bottom-left - hummus (with olives and almonds), middle-right - a plain, diced salad; bottom-right - Cole Slaw.
The Background Story
Felafel, also written as falafel, are made of chickpeas - an important food. Chickpeas provide a high-protien, low-fat, economical food.
Chickpeas are legumes, or "pulses". They are available, in western markets, dried (in bags) or canned or even, sometimes, in bulk bins and the like. There are several kinds of chickpeas. Green chickpeas, for example, grown and consumed raw in Latin American countries, are known as guasana. We use the infinitely more common (and generally used for felafel and hummus) white variety.
With a total of around 9,000,000 tonnes in production around the world, India is the largest producer of chickpeas, or "chana" as it is known there - raising in the area of 6,000,000 tonnes of the produce. Pakistan is a distant second at around 800,000 tonnes. In the western hemisphere, Canada is a large producer at a bit over 200,000 tonnes per year.
The flour from chickpeas, known as "gram pulse", or "besan" flour, is used in India for such treats as pakoras. The felafel, though, is a decidedly Middle Eastern dish.
We choose to use dried (bagged) chickpeas as we believe there to be potential health problems with cans. Additionally, the economy of dried product represents a substantial savings. We think the modest additional work and extra time to soak and cook the chickpeas is well worth it.
One can purchase a felafel maker (a metal device which precisely measures and forms the felafels). We just make them by hand.
It is sometimes suprising how easy a dish can be to make. Felafel falls into this category of 'easy".
Felafel is a deep fried food., It can be fried in a pan, pot or wok with just as little as about 1 1/2 to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) of oil.
You can use a deep frier (most recommended as todays residential deep friers are quite safe when used as direct). You can use a pot with or without a deep fry basket. A heavy duty (ie, cast iron) fry pan will work although it holds little oil and can be quite dangerous as the sides are low. You can also use a wok (our prefered vessel). The shape of the wok makes it economical and, when used with due caution, relatively safe.
We do caution you, though, to never leave hot oil unattended! Children should never be left alone with or even near hot oil. Felafel fries quickly and seems to not absorb much oil during the cooking process.
In this day and age when food processors are so convenient and affordable we wouldn't even consider making feleafel without a food processor. It certainly can be done but it makes no sense to us.
You should make felafel a few times to find out what mix of spices you like best, We prepared it many times before we found the precise balance of flavours that suited our taste. Leaving out paprika, for example, will make a lighter coloured felafel while adding minced, fresh coriander leaf will give it a greenish hue and it may darken a bit more during cooking.
Felafel may be served on a salad plate or, as in much of the Middle East, as a sandwich in a pita. In some cultures, the pita pocket is filled while in others, the felafels are wrapped, with vegetables and tahini sauce, in a pita "flatbread" or "souvlaki sandwich" style.