Thursday, August 29, 2013

Recipes My Daughter Likes: Falafel

One of my favorite restaurants in Birmingham is The Pita Stop which features Middle Eastern food. It has been in town for many years and was originally started by a Lebanese family. It was there that I first became acquainted with falafel, which immediately became my favorite thing on their menu.  If you are ever in town, The Pita Stop is well worth the visit.

Years ago I was talking with a colleague about how much I liked the Middle Eastern dish. His wife was Egyptian, and he mentioned that she had a recipe and often made her own falafel. I asked if she would mind sharing the recipe, which thankfully she did.  I immediately tried it at home and it is now one of my daughter’s favorites. While she was home visiting this summer, she requested that I make it again.

Here is the recipe that I have kept in the form of a handwritten note and used for years: 

Ensaf's Falafel

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups dried chick peas
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 whole garlic
  • 2 bunches parsley
  • Hot peppers (I use 4 jalapenos in my half recipe version - 5 if you like it really spicy!)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper

Preparation:

Soak the chick peas overnight, drain.
Combine chick peas, onion, garlic, parsley and hot pepper. Grind twice in an electric meat grinder.
Add salt, pepper, cumin, and baking powder. Mix thoroughly.
When ready to fry the falafel, add baking soda.
Shape into patties 1 ½  inches in diameter and ½ inch thick.
Fry in deep hot oil until light brown and crisp. (I use peanut oil in a large frying pan)
Serve hot with tomato slices in Arabic (pita) bread in the form of a sandwich with tahini sauce and sliced onion. Garnish with parsley.

The falafel batter may be frozen. Thaw and add baking soda just before frying.

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I should note that when I make this, I just make a half recipe, which is as much as I want to deal with at a time. I use a food processor to do the grinding. First, I'll grind the chick peas (I do it in small batches in the food processor) then with the second grinding, I'll add the parsley, onion, and peppers I end up with a large mixing bowl full of batter with just a half recipe.  I usually have it with brown rice, sometimes with pita bread. Also, I must confess that I have never used tahini sauce when serving these at home, but I found a recipe online that looks good. You can find it here.


Falafel (photo from Wikipedia)



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