Falafel is the most meaty non-meat dish I know. I have never thought of it as a vegetarian dish, but of cause it is.
The first time I ever had falafel was on a summer camp with the youth group at my church. We were making it all from scratch, and I remember it as a really great thing. But nevertheless there would go years before I tasted falafels again.
Here in San Francisco Bay Area we have a lot of different falafel places, but I really like Falafel Drive In, in San Jose. They serve their falafels with a banana milkshake, it so yummy, and it helps keep the heat down when I put Sambal Oelek in my falafel pita. This is my version.
- 400 g (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1¾ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoons ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoons black pepper
- ¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil for frying (I used sunflower oil)
Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them by about 3 inches (10 cm) cold water. Let them soak overnight or up to 24 hours. You need a big bowl because they will double in size. Drain and rinse the beans well.
Pour the beans into a food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, cilantro, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander and cayenne pepper.
Pulse all ingredients together, scraping down the sides of the bowl to incorporate it all, and getting a uniform chop of the beans. Pulse the mixture until you have a rough, coarse meal the kinda like a fine couscous. You want the mixture to hold together, but not to turn into hummus.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir it with a fork. Up till this point can be made in advance, just keep the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to fry. Stir in the baking powder and baking soda. Use an ice cream scoop to help getting uniform sized falafel balls. I like mine round, but you can do yours any shape yo like.
Fill a skillet with vegetable oil to 320-355℉ (160-180℃), I used about a quart (1 liter) this was enough so the falafels were able to be covered while frying. I tried to stay as close to 355℉ (180℃) without getting over that temperature.
Fry the falafels until dark golden, and cooked all the way through. If you make them oval or more flat, they will cook faster than a sphere. I cooked mine for about 3-5 minutes. Once the falafels are fried, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and let them drain on a paper towel. The falafels won't be dripping with fat, if the temperature are right.