The first time I ever tasted falafel I hated it. Admittedly trying middle eastern food in a restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania might not be the best place to decide if I liked it, but that’s what happened.
Being vegetarian in Lithuania at that time was hard. I ate a lot of spinach soup, which I adored, and canned mixed vegetable salads which I didn’t.
I was working there with a couple of other people and we went to the Middle Eastern restaurant a lot, because they had belly dancers. And it seems that belly dancers, particularly pretty ones who gravitate to anyone who tips them well, attracts middle aged Northern Irish men.
The other woman and I enjoyed watching the men’s faces. They didn’t seem to care for the food much, but the dancers… That was another story.
So falafel were never high on my list of things to make.
But then last week I found a recipe, and being in a situation where being vegetarian is almost as difficult as it was in Lithuania all those years ago, I had to try it because I had chick peas in the cupboard.
I made them literally twenty minutes ago, for this evening’s supper. And oh my word! These are not what I remember!
These are light, spicy and so darned delicious I had to leave the kitchen for fear of eating more than the one I allowed myself to test.
These are a winner and I will definitely be making them again. And, bonus, the house smells great.
I don’t have access to tahini, but I really won’t miss it. I know that already.
• 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and patted dry
• 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, about a handful
• Canola oil, for frying
• 4 pita breads
• Chopped tomato, for garnish
• Shredded Iceberg lettuce
• Tahini sauce or hummus
Combine all falafel ingredients except oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse mixture until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Form the falafel mixture into balls about the size of walnuts and press to flatten.
Heat 4 inches of oil to 375 degrees F in a deep pot or deep fryer. Fry about 6 balls at once for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Stuff each pita with 4 falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and tahini.