Monday, September 13, 2010

Meatless Monday: Falafel Goodness!

Today I made my semi-regular trip to my local halal market, which is such a blessing to have close by. If you haven't checked one of these out, do so! Usually extremely affordable, and stocked with vegetarian essentials that are both nutritious and delicious, these shops are some of the best resources for vegetarians with an exotic pallet.

Today, I got the fixings for a yummy falafel wrap, so I thought I would share.

Falafel patties or balls are wonderful food, and can be eaten by themselves with dipping sauce or as burgers or pitas, and are packed with protein and fibre. Likely first made in Egypt, they are now a staple across the Middle East and in most urban centres in the west, as well. One theory of how falafel came to be was that the Copts made them to replace meat for Lent, which makes sense, as they are the perfect regular item in the complete and healthy vegan or vegetarian diet.

If you've not tried them, please do!

Sure-fire Falafel Recipe:

1 cup dried chickpeas and/or fava beans (or 1 can)
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric (for colour)
(Cilantro can also be used)
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons flour
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying

Also (all optional/negotiable):
Chopped cucumber
Chopped tomato
Diced red and green pepper
Diced onion for garnish
Shredded lettuce (optional)
Tahina sauce or hot sauce (optional)
Horseradish paste (optional)
Mayo (optional)
Pita bread

Instructions:

1. Prepare the dry chickpeas or fava beans according to the instructions (likely soaked in water over night), or use canned, drained.

2. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in a food processor or blender. Add the parsley, sea salt, hot pepper, garlic, turmeric and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed. The mixture should not be too wet, but if you need some added wetness, add drizzles of water, lemon juice or olive oil.

3. Sprinkle the baking powder in, along with 4 tablespoons of flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your oiled hands. Put into a covered bowl and refrigerate for several hours before cooking.

4. Form the mixture into balls slightly smaller than pingpong balls.

5. Heat approx. 3" of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pan or wok, and fry 1 ball as a test. If it falls apart, add a bit more flour. Then fry about several balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. You may flatten them with a fork if that cooks them better or is more convenient. Drain on paper towels.

6. Apply desired condiments to half a pita, and then stuff with falafel balls and chopped veggies. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water, if desired.

And there you go! Enjoy!

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