These little chickpea fritters are known around the Middle East, Turkey, Greece and other countries, as a tasty street food. Every country has its own version, but aside from Egypt, where the dish is made with Fava beans, all others use chickpeas as the base for the dish.
The recipe here follows the Israeli version, which was introduced by Yemenite Jews. To this, other flavors were added with time, such as the spicy Moroccan Harissa (red hot peppers paste) and other seasonings.
The fried balls are usually served in Pita bread, with fresh or cooked salads, pickles, and Tahini sauce on top, which makes them a perfect quick lunch.
They can also be served on top of a fresh salad, or, as shown here, as a light snack, served with lemony Tahini dipping sauce.
In any way you choose to serve them, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the crispy crust and the spicy and fresh inner layer.
A few notes:
* The chickpeas are soaked overnight, so you need to start your preparations a day ahead.
* The chickpeas are NOT cooked. Cooked chickpeas (or canned) are NOT suitable for this recipe.
* I prefer to grind the mixture coarsely, for a very crispy texture. If you prefer a smoother one, you can grind it finer.
* To make sure your mixture is not too wet (ingredients can vary in moisture), and holds in frying, pan fry one ball before forming all the balls. If it does break, add 2-3 Tbs of flour (gluten-free if needed), mix well and form the rest. The Falafel with the flour will be a bit denser and heavier, so it’s best to avoid this option, if possible.
* After experimenting with both frying and baking the mixture, I came to the conclusion that the fried version is tastier by far. However, the baked version has its advantages, so I suggest to try both and decide what suits you best.
* For best results, fry or bake the balls just before serving, and serve them piping hot.
* As said above, there are many versions for this dish, so feel free to mix and match your own with different seasonings and herbs.
Makes: about 30 (1/8 cup size balls)
Soaking time: overnight
Prep time: 20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes
Frying time: 4-5 minutes, OR – Baking time: about 20 minutes
I cup dried chickpeas
4 garlic cloves
½ medium size onion
1 ½ cups packed parsley and cilantro leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp Harissa paste
Oil for deep frying (I use safflower oil), or oil spray for baking
For serving (optinal): lemony Tahini sauce (check in THIS POST or THIS POST for the recipe)
1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight (change the water once during this time), until the beans have doubled in size. Drain and keep at room temperature while gathering the rest of ingredients.
2. Place the drained chickpeas with the garlic, onion and herbs in a food processor bowl, fitted with the metal blade. Process to a fairly coarse (or as fine as you want it) mixture. (Don’t be tempted to add more onion/herbs, as the mixture will end up too wet to fry.) Transfer to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, squeezing the mixture with your hands. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
3. Line a 1/8 cup with plastic wrap. Place a bit of the mixture in it, and press it tightly. Release from the cup and place on a plate lined with plastic wrap. Pan fry one ball, to make sure your mixture is not too wet and holds. If it does break (ingredients can vary in moisture), add 2-3 Tbs of flour (gluten-free if needed) to the mixture, mix well and repeat forming the balls with the rest of the mixture.
4. To deep-fry: preheat the oil on medium-high heat, in a medium size pot, or a deep fryer. Fry a few balls at a time and fry for 4-5 minutes, until they are dark-brown on all sides. Take out with a slotted spoon and serve immediately.
5. To bake: preheat the oven to 430F (220C). Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with oil. Add the prepared balls and spray them with oil. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bottom is brown and crispy. Turn to the other side and bake for about 10 minutes, until this side is brown and crispy as well.