I love Middle Eastern food and one of my most frequently made staple snacks (mostly because the kids love it to) is falafel.
Falafel originated in Egypt and is another one of those recipes that varies wildly, although like many does have some basic principles.
Many seem to use broad beans although I prefer to make them with just chick peas. In Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s book Jerusalem (Ebury) they recommend using only one clove of garlic..while other recipes use up to six! During wild garlic season I use a handful of this instead, but otherwise I would use about 3-4. I like a good hit, but not so I OD on it.
Cumin is the standard spice in most recipes and I don’t differ in that respect. A good teaspoon or two is enough for me along with a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley and a handful of coriander.
Some recipes use onion or spring onion but I like to use a small red onion…its sweeter and varies the flavour.
The mixture should be roughly blitzed in a food processor. A good sturdy model is essential. In the past my attempts to make perfect falafel with a small domestic food processor proved futile. My all singing all dancing Magimix 5200XL is the best machine I have ever used for the job…no amount of chickpeas can daunt it!
Once ingredients have been blitzed I, like Ottolenghi and Tamimi, add a teaspoon baking powder and a spoon full of flour and leave it to rest in the fridge (I have to say I don’t always leave the mix for an hour though).I roll the balls in sesame seeds which give a nice finish and lovely crunchy texture when deep-fried.
The Perfect Falafel Recipe
500g chickpeas, soaked overnight with half a teaspoon bicarb of soda
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed or a handful of wild garlic leaves
a small red onion, chopped finely
a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
a sprinkle of paprika
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tbsp plain flour
sesame seeds for rolling the balls in
vegetable oil for deep-frying
Combine the drained chickpeas with the garlic, onion, parsley and coriander leaves. Blitz in a food processor until roughly chopped.The mixture should not be a puree, but should retain texture. Add your spices, baking powder, flour, salt and about four tablespoons of water. Leave to rest in the fridge for up to an hour.
Either heat up a deep fat fryer (which is safest) or half fill a large heavy-based saucepan with vegetable or sunflower oil.
Form the falafel mixture into small golf ball sized portions and roll in sesame seeds. When the oil is hot drop in falafel carefully.
Don’t overload the pan/fryer…cook about 5 or 6 at a time then when golden remove and drain on paper towels.