I know that’s a bold statement to make, but I really do think that the falafels I made for our Super Bowl party were exceptional. Everything about them screamed, “YUM!”
Now, you have to understand that as an Israeli, I have been exposed to an inordinate quantity of falafels. I’ve had the good, the amazing, the bad, the ugly, the terrifying. The way too oily, the dry as dust kind. Suffice it to say, I know a hot diggity dog great falafel when I taste one. I’m telling you, this recipe is it!
Having made falafels only once in my life (from a mix), I was a bit scared to approach this endeavor. Luckily, I knew I had someone in my corner:
Ok, so it’s someTHING, not someONE…semantics.
This is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks – Ottolenghi and Tamimi have put together an eclectic and delicious mix of recipes. I was less afraid knowing I had a starting point. Saturday morning, I opened my cabinets, positive I had all the ingredients necessary. Wrong. I had no dried chickpeas. I did, however, have a few tins of canned garbanzo beans. I figured, what the heck…and gave it a whirl. I used their recipe as a guideline for which spices to use, but other than that, this recipe is all my own.
If you’re craving a delicious vegetarian option, these falafel balls will suit the bill. They have a creamy and fluffy interior, yet they’re crunchy on the outside. They go well in a pita or as an appetizer with some tehini and hummus to dip. Best of all, they’re really easy to make. The girls and I had a great time making these little green fritters.
Michal’s Gluten Free Falafel Balls
*Note – you can use regular all-purpose flour instead of the Gluten Free flour
1 lb 13 oz can of garbanzo beans (aka chick peas)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 head of parsley, finely chopped
1/2 head of cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (add another 1/4 to 1/2 tsp if you want these to be spicy)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp water
4-5 tbsp King Arthur’s Gluten Free Flour
3-4 cups sunflower oil (though I like to use a mixture of sunflower, avocado, olive and walnut oils)
1 1/2 tsp salt
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro. Pulse until finely chopped and almost a paste, but not mushy. Turn out into a bowl and add the spices, baking powder, salt, flour and water. Mix well until you reach an even consistency. This is a great activity to do with your kids. I don’t know about your tots, but mine LOVE to mix things in a bowl. Truthfully, I let Bella help me with the falafel making, but I gave the two year old bits that I wasn’t really using in order to keep her occupied and happy. She mixed garbage in her bowl, but felt like she was doing just as much as her big sister.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Fill a deep pan or small pot with oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat and start rolling your balls.
Wet your hands! It will make this process much easier. Use 1 tablespoon of the mixture to form a ball or press it down into a patty (the patty is preferable if you’re stuffing these into a pita). I tried using an ice cream scoop, but found it easier to use a spoon and my hands.
Do a test before you fry up a big batch. I made the mistake of throwing 8 balls into the oil without the test and they all fell apart on me. This is an issue that can arise. I won’t lie. So, roll a tiny little ball and throw it into the oil. If it doesn’t hold together, add a bit more flour (1-3 tbsp) until they fry up nicely. If after 3 tbsp of flour the mixture still doesn’t hold together in the oil, add an egg. This should do the trick, though you really shouldn’t need an egg…
Now that the mixture is perfected, you can fry up these little guys. Drop the falafels into the oil and let them cook until well browned. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
If you plan to serve these at a later date, I suggest freezing them, then reheating in a 425 degree oven. OR, if you can, the best way to prep them is to refry them quickly so they get that nice crunch back.
As an appetizer:
These falafel balls are great as a passed hors d’oeuvre or as a starter course. Either way, I like to serve them with a bowl of tehini, a bowl of hummus and a bowl of schug or hot sauce.
For the sandwich:
This is very important…the accouterments served with falafel are crucial. Here’s what I like to put in my sandwich:
Pita – get really good pita made by Israelis or Arabs
Israeli salad – basically, this is made of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and parsley
Labane – strained yogurt cheese
Israeli pickles – otherwise known as cucumbers in brine
Hummus – Sonny & Joe is my favorite brand
Schug or hot sauce
If I have extra time and energy, I also like to make roasted or fried eggplant slices.