Home-made Falafel

Falafel: the ultimate gluten-free, vegan, healthy, delicious food.  Practically a complete food unto itself with protein, carbs, and healthy fats, and vegetables all in a small delicious package.  But sadly, in the USA, they are often not made gluten-free when they so easily could be.

I was traveling in Granada, Spain a few years ago when my then-fianc√© and I were looking for a good, inexpensive meal that was a change from Spanish food.  We found a Lebanese restaurant and really lucked out - their falafel was gluten-free!  It turns out that falafel is usually gluten-free outside of the US.  But more than that, it was the most delicious falafel I've ever tasted.  It was kind of smooth and creamy on the inside, and very, very green as well.  The outside was the ultimate crispy crust.

Recently I decided to re-create that falafel experience.  I was partly motivated because I recently got a Delonghi Deep Fryer.  Deep frying the falafel is what gives it the super-crispy crust.  However, you can also bake or pan-fry the falafel.  Packing the falafel with flavor involves just quadrupling the amount of greens that you put in them, according to most recipes.  I also omit the baking soda that most people use, as that makes them fluffy not creamy.


Thanks to Downshiftology for the recipe inspiration!

Falafel Recipe

The night before you want to cook your falafel, soak in a bowl with plenty of water topping it:

1 cup dried chickpeas aka garbanzo beans


Note: if you must use canned chickpeas, then you must bake them.  They fall apart frying, as I learned the hard way.  The texture isn't as good, but the flavor is still great when using canned chickpeas.

An hour or more before you want to eat (leave extra time if you are baking), drain the chickpeas and rinse.  Put in a food processor with:

1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
1 serrano chile, de-seeded
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp whole or dried cumin
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste


Pulse the ingredients together a few times until the garbanzo beans start breaking down and everything is blending a bit.  Add

One extra-large bunch of parsley, or two smaller bunches
One large bunch of cilantro

Pulse all the ingredients together until the garbanzo beans resemble coarse sand.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Remove the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Pre-heat your fryer or oven. Cook times vary depending on method:

Frying: 4-6 minutes per batch, but don't crowd
Baking at 400°: 20-25 minutes

With your hands or a scoop, carefully form balls of the falafel mixture, anywhere from golf-ball sized to nectarine sized.  Somewhere in between is typical, about 16 total falafels. Make patties if you are baking.

Whichever cooking method you are using, turn them over once mid-way through the cooking process.

Frying:

Fry in batches of four for two minutes, then turn over and fry for another 1-2 minutes until golden brown to deep brown.

For fryers, you may want to test a single falafel to make sure it will hold together before doing a batch.  If the balls aren't holding together when you form them, or if your test falafel breaks while cooking, you can stir into the mixture:

 2-4 Tbsp chickpea flour or any all-purpose flour (optional)

I typically don't find this necessary, but sometimes my falafel split a little.  I don't mind this.

Baking:

Brush generously on both sides with:

olive oil

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes flipping once halfway through.

Remove the falafel from the fryer or oven and serve immediately while hot, or save in a 200° oven until ready to serve.

Serve with hummus, salad, tzatziki, and pita or, my favorite, gluten-free naan.





Comments

sianifairy said…
I've made your falafel twice in the last two weeks. First was with chickpeas, and the second time...with soaked yellow split peas. We were gifted about 8 lbs of them and falafel is way sexier than split-pea soup. With garden lettuce, your naan, and tahini sauce, just delicious both ways.

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