I'm a big fan of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. I love the fresh veggies, tangy yogurt, big pinches of hot dried peppers and bright, sunny citrus juice that come together in dishes like hummus and lahmacun.
One of my close friends finally took the hint after I constantly ranted about food from the other side of the world and bought me Jerusalem: A Cookbook. After making a few dishes out of it, I'm certain it would be the one thing I would save if my house were on fire. I highly recommend it.
Earlier this week, I made falafel and I just had to share the recipe. It was so good! I served mine on flat bread with a chopped salad of tomatoes and cucumbers and a yogurt sauce similar to tzatziki.
Like a lot of Israeli food, there is a fair amount of "wait time" in this recipe. You have to soak the chick peas overnight and then you have to let the falafel mixture rest for an hour until you use it. I recommend starting it one or two days before you're going to make it. I soaked the beans on a Saturday night, whipped up the falafel mixture on Sunday and then cooked them on Monday. It took just 20-30 minutes to prepare on serving night since I had done all the heavy lifting beforehand.
From Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Preparation: 40 minutes hands-on time, plus 8-9 hours wait time
1 1/4 c. dried chickpeas
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 ts. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
vegetable oil, for frying
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1. Cover the chickpeas with water in a large bowl and soak overnight.
2. Drain the chickpeas and stir in the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro. In small batches, food process the mixture for about 30-40 seconds. It should be very finely chopped but not the texture of hummus.
3. Transfer to a bowl and add the spices, baking powder, flour, water and 3/4 tsp. salt. Mix well by hand. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Form tablespoon-sized balls from the mixture and set on a plate. Line a colander with paper towels and set on a plate.
5. Fill a medium saucepan with oil, until the oil comes 2-3 inches up the sides of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Test the heat of the oil by frying one falafel. Drop into the oil and let fry for 2 minutes. Then, using a slotted spoon, turn the falafel over so the other side can fry. Fry for about 3 more minutes, until nice and brown on the outside.
6. Remove the falafel from oil using the slotted spoon and set in the colander. Allow to cool before testing for doneness. The falafel should be brown and crunchy on the outside and bright green and cooked through on the inside. If so, the oil is hot enough. Fry the rest of the falafels in the same manner, frying 5-6 at a time. Drain and enjoy.