20 April 2011


I don't know exactly how it happened, but our family has become quite the fan of falafel over the years.  I think it all may have started when I worked at The Sunspot years ago, going to the natural food trade shows; a vendor gave me a free falafel mix.  With the mix, all I had to do was add water, leave it be for about fifteen minutes, portion, and fry.  It was easy and delicious, and it was a nice change of pace.

Fast forward a few years and I wanted to try to make my own falafel.  I found a recipe online and made a batch.  The falafel I made from scratch wasn't that much better than the mix I used, so I kept using the mix whenever a craving hit because it was easier. 

Fast forward another couple years, and imagine my delight when I saw that Alton Brown would be doing a chickpea episode of Good Eats.  Well, I was very delighted, and the episode did not disappoint.  Not only did AB give me a fantastic recipe for falafel, he also gave me a great new hummus technique, but that's another post.

After the episode aired, I knew I would be making the falafel on Friday night.  It came together very easily, and I was happy to have another use for my meat grinder.  I actually portioned the falafel on Thursday, so all I had to do was fry them of Friday.  I love low stress dinners, and this was about as low stress as it can get.  But the proof was in the tasting.

Unlike the previous falafel recipe I used, AB's recipe is much better than the mix.  It is definitely worth the effort.  The flavors are not muddled and the texture obtained by grinding the chickpeas is very nice.  The bit of heat from the cayenne pepper is also a nice touch.  Bye-bye mix, I have a new way to make falafel!

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

•1 pound dried chickpeas, sorted and rinsed
•1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
•1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
•2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
•4 small scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
•2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
•2 quarts peanut oil
•Pita bread, warmed, for serving

Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and cover with 2 inches of cold water. Soak overnight.

Place the cumin and coriander seeds in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet and set over medium high heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds give off an aroma and just begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the toasted spices to a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Set aside.

Drain the chickpeas. Combine the soaked chickpeas, ground cumin and coriander, garlic and scallions, salt, black pepper, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and parsley leaves in a medium mixing bowl.

Pass this mixture through a meat grinder or stand mixer with the grinder attachment fitted with the smallest die. Alternatively, you can divide the mixture in half and process one half at a time in a food processor, pulsing 10 to 20 times.

Scoop the mixture into 1 1/2 to 2-ounce portions using a 2-inch diameter disher. Place on a half sheet pan lined with parchment. Can be held hold at room temperature for up to 2 hours before frying, or covered in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat the peanut oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. Adjust the heat to maintain temperature. Gently place the falafel, 1 at a time, into the hot oil. Fry 4 at a time until deep golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a half sheet pan lined with a cooling rack and topped with a paper towel to drain. Repeat until all falafel have been cooked. Serve on warm pita.



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