Rediscovering Palestinian Cuisine

Falafel–like a Boss

Falafel–like a Boss
Raw falafel, ready for frying

Falafel done right is a difficult thing. We can’t tell you how many recipes, boxed mixes, and restaurants we’ve tried in our search for the perfect falafel. You will find this super nutritious dish all over Palestine, whether it’s eaten at home or as street food. It’s versatility is legendary, and is commonly prepared in the United States as a sandwich: wrapped in pita with pickled vegetables and dipped in sauces. Traditionally, falafel are chickpea patties, but chickpeas can be combined with fava beans (ful medames) for an even richer flavor. Palestinian falafel is made with chickpeas alone, but the recipe provided here, which is adapted from a Lebanese recipe by Linda Dalal Sawaya, is quite possibly the best we’ve ever tried. They are perfectly crunchy on the outside, and soft and fluffy at their core. The addition of the jalapeno pepper is from my grandmother’s recipe; she hailed from Ramallah, Palestine, a city known for its predilection for hot peppers. She was a teta boss, and with this recipe, you can be, too.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry fava beans soaked for 24 hours
1 cup dry garbanzo beans (chickpeas) soaked for 24 hours
2 large onions
5 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 whole jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup Italian parsley, minced
1 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Recipe:

  1. Rinse the beans and soak them in 1 quart of water for 24 hours. Drain the beans, and then rinse. Put them in the food processor, and finely grind them. Remove the beans from the food processor and place in a bowl. Quarter 2 large onions and core and seed the jalapeno, then add them to the food processor and mince. When they are finished, add the ground beans to the onion mixture. Pulse all ingredients together in the food processor. Then add garlic, spices, and baking soda.  To this mixture, add the minced parsley and cilantro. Blend everything together in the food processor. The mixture will appear minty green.
  2. Place mixture into a large bowl. Form a spoonful into a ball. If the consistency is correct, the ball holds together; if not, mix in a little garbanzo flour. Form the ball or patty in the palm of your hand, or use a falafel molder, called an aleb.
  3. To fry, heat oil that is 2 inches deep in a wok or skillet, to 450F. Fry falafel in hot oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. You may then coat the falafel with sesame seeds.
  4. You may serve the falafel on a plate with other mezze, or in pita bread with tahineh sauce, pickled vegetables, or dip in toum.
    Falafel, smothered in simsim and surrounding a dollop of toum


    Toum, or garlic mayonnaise.
    Warning: must love garlic, because this has kick.
    3 heads of garlic, peeled
    4-5 cups of vegetable oil (sunflower or canola are best)
    1 lemon, freshly juiced
    1 teaspoon saltimg_0113

  • Before you start, ensure that all ingredients are at room temperature for a more reliable outcome. Also if you are using a large food processor make sure you use at least 3 heads of garlic otherwise smaller quantities of garlic may be reached by the blades.
  • Add the garlic and salt in the food processor and run for 10-20 seconds.
  • Stop processor, scrap garlic down the sides, then run processor again for another 10-20 seconds. Repeat process 3-4 times until garlic starts to turn pasty and looks crushed. This is very important to reach before proceeding.
  • At this point, turn the processor back on and keep it on until the end.
  • Start adding the oil to the processor at a very slow rate, in a very thin stream, each ½ cup at a time. After adding the first half cup you will start seeing the garlic emulsify and turn into a paste already.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice very slowly, in a thin stream.
  • Wait on it a few seconds until the lemon juice is well absorbed.
  • Then go back to repeating the same process of adding slowly ½ cup of oil, waiting a few seconds, then adding ½ teaspoon of lemon juice until you’ve used all ingredients. This process should take 8-10 minutes.
  • If at any point you see that the paste is turning liquid, it may be an indication that you’ve added either too much lemon juice, or oil, or you may have added them at a fast rate.

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