Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fabulous falafels and tasty tabbouleh ~ more vegetarian crowd pleasers

Falafels are one of those excellent foods that can be enjoyed any time anywhere.  They can be prepared in large batches ahead of time and stored in the freezer all ready to go into the pan at a moments notice.  I find this most useful as when I'm hungry I'm not good at waiting around.  Here's a nice photo to tempt your appetite! 

They are not in the least difficult to make, but when making them initially it is helpful to plan ahead as the main ingredient, chickpeas, sometimes called garbanzo beans, can take quite some time to cook.  We allow 50 minutes.  The length of time they take may depend on how much they have been dried.

  • Chickpeas, cooked and drained - 4 cups
  • Bread - 2 to 3 slices of wholemeal bread.  Stale bread and crusts are fine.
  • Parsley - pick a large bunch which could fill a cup once chopped
  • Garlic - 4 to 5 cloves
  • Sweet basil - half a dozen leaves if you have it fresh, or a teaspoonful if you are using dried flakes
  • Cumin, powdered - 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
  • Baking soda - 1 teaspoon
  • Salt to taste - 1 to 1 and a half teaspoons
  • Pepper to taste 
  • Water - about a quarter of a cup
  • Eggs - 2
  • Two tablespoons of plain flour
A food processor can be used for making these but is not essential.  
  • Make your breadcrumbs, either in the food processor or with a grater, and put these to one side in a large bowl.
  • Put the cooked and drained chickpeas into the food processor with all the herbs and spices along with about a quarter of a cup of water, and whiz it until it takes on the appearance of crumbs. 
    • If not using a food processor a potato masher works well, but the chickpeas need to be hot and cooked soft for this to work well.
  • Add the chickpea mixture to the breadcrumbs in the bowl.
  • Beat the two eggs.  You can use the food processor for this as well.
  • Mix all these ingredients thoroughly
  • Add the flour, which will help it all hold together.  If the mixture is still too crumbly add more water; if it's too wet, add more breadcrumbs or a little more flour.
Your felafel mixture should look something like this:

Forming the mixture into shapes:
Many recipes suggest rolling it into balls, but this requires that they be deep-fried.  Moulding them into flattish little fritter shapes is fine and although frying still requires that the bottom of the cooking pan be well covered less oil is needed. 

Rewi likes to use a dessertspoon which he dips into a small bowl of cold water before using it to shape each one.  This makes them easier to handle and reduces stickiness.

Freezer storage:
Here is the latest batch on their ice cream container lid nearly ready to be slid onto a plastic snap-lock bag.  They can then be shelved in the freezer.  This make-shift tray inside the bag is a very good storage method, keeping them separate and easy to handle as well as containing the inevitable smell of garlic; when they are needed we can easily see where they are and lift them out without having to excavate for them.

In the photograph below you can see how I've used this method with frozen vegetable greens, a tip which I shared in my earlier article about packaging:

Cook now:
So you'd rather eat them straight away?  Fine!  Fry each side until golden brown, and they are ready!  Standing them on a paper towel can help absorb any extra oil.

Felafels are traditionally eaten with Tabbouleh, a simple salad made of:
  • Bulgar wheat, or cracked wheat or some similar grain or bean
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Plenty of finely chopped parsley
  • Finely chopped mint
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic and Onion
  • Salt.
I'm impatiently waiting for my mint to grow so that I can eat both together!  I will add a more exact recipe once I've achieved that.

Finally here is a little musical accompaniment of the tabbouleh variety to set your toes tapping after all that food preparation: food should be fun as well as delicious and nourishing!

It's an anxious time in the East at present, and seeing this humorous video lifted my spirits; it also provides a window into a different angle on eastern culture than we see on the news, so thank you, GoRemy!

My other food articles can be found via the link below:

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