Variety is the spice of life. Isn’t it? That’s my logic regarding life too. I always want something colorful, different and spicy in life. Food has the ability to do this magic for you. I feel amazed often knowing, reading and experimenting at the vast assortment of dishes found around the world. Every country, in it, every region umpteen dishes which are loaded with flavors, spices, vegetables, fruits, legumes and what not. Take for example India only, enormous collection of traditional and contemporary dishes can be found in each nook and corner of each region.
Middle East is a region where you can find an array of dishes which are consumed in the whole region, a distinct feature which I have noticed. All the Arab countries more or less have almost similar dishes. They too have their street food. Today’s recipe is a street food which according to history, have originated from Egypt and later spread to Israel, and then to the rest of the world. Falafel is the widely accepted, years old street food which has gained much recognition not only in the Arab region but all over the globe.
Chick peas is a legume, which is as well favored as in India. It is also known as the brother of Hummus as it is the second show stopper of this region which is made out of chickpeas. It can be made into balls or as patties with a crisp dark golden brownish exterior and a green soft interior. It can be grainy or smooth in texture. It can be eaten as a snack or can be turned into a sandwich by filling it in pita bread along with some dips, veggies and cheese. History says it was originally made from fava beans/broad brown beans by Egyptian copts. When the Israeli slaves bought it back to Israel, they started making it with chickpeas.
Dried chickpeas soaked and softened in water is ground to a paste along with onions, parsley, coriander, cumin and pepper. A slight difference can be there in addition of the ingredients. I have used cayenne pepper in this recipe which is what is used by the people in this region. It is totally fine to replace it with Chilli powder. When using chilli powder, reduce the quantity as its more pungent and sharp than the cayenne. Since this dish is an Israeli street food and originated from there, Kosher Salt is basically used in this. Since I’ve got it plenty in hand, I went with the traditional recipe. This can be substituted with the normal salt.
Salt is a naturally occurring substance that is harvested from either seawater or rock-salt deposits in salt mines. To produce salt, the water must be evaporated from seawater or brine made by pumping water into the rock deposits. After the water is gone, the remaining salt crystals can be processed in many different ways and are sometimes treated with anti-caking additives.
Kosher salt is a coarse-grained salt made from the salt crystals. It is usually not iodized, but some brands may contain an anti-caking agent. The evaporation process determines the salt’s final shape, so kosher salt can be flat or pyramidal in structure depending on the brand. The top two brands are Morton and Diamond Crystal: Morton’s is much coarser than table salt, but Diamond Crystal is even coarser than Morton.
Any salt can be kosher if it’s produced under kosher supervision, but it’s not because of Jewish dietary guidelines that kosher salt got its name. In fact, something labeled “kosher salt” can actually not be kosher at all!
Kosher salt’s original purpose was really to kosher meat, meaning to remove the blood from meat, so it’s really koshering salt. Certain salt companies labeled the boxes of this coarse salt kosher salt rather than koshering salt, and the name stuck. ( Input courtesy: https://www.thekitchn.com/kosher-salt-where-it-comes-from-why-its-called-kosher-ingredient-intelligence-219665) You can browse through this website for more details.
Soaking the chickpeas overnight or for 8-10 hours is advisable as I don’t prefer to add any softening or rising additives in this snack. flat leaf parsley is the key ingredient which makes a huge difference to the palate and color of this dish. Fresh coriander, cumin and coriander powder along with onions and garlic adds to the flavor of this dish. Finally all purpose flour is what is added for binding this snack. Instead of using completely all purpose flour, I’ve used a combination of chick pea flour and APF so that the essence of the snack is retained. Add the flours according to the moisture content only. It should not be overpowering. If the flours are in excess quantity, falafel tend to be harder and the whole taste gets into a different level.
I hope you all will enjoy this dish as much as we do. Left over falafels can be turned into sandwiches or salads. In the middle east, it is served in Pita bread along with sauces and veggies. So you can make falafel and turn it into sandwiches and send it as lunch packs or Tiffins.
Soak the chickpeas in water overnight or for 8-10 hours. Wash and drain well. Chop the onions and leaves roughly. Grind the chickpeas, onion, garlic, coriander and parsley to a finely coarse mixture.
Mix the ground chickpea mixture with all the spice powders and required amount of salt until well blended. Then add the lime juice and give a quick mix. Finally add the chickpea flour and APF and mix homogenously till well combined. Rest for half an hour.
If you feel the moisture content is more and it’ll not bind, add a tablespoon more or the necessary flour and mix up once again adjusting salt. Roll into lime sized balls or as patties.
Deep fry in oil until brownish outside and tender inside. Be careful about the heat when you fry. Drop the falafel on high heat to the oil and after a minute, reduce the flame to medium low and cook on low heat. Since all the ingredients are raw, proper cooking is needed to get the authentic taste. Drain on a paper towel and enjoy hot with dip.
Mix the tahini, yogurt into a thick paste combining well. Add the lime juice and garlic along with warm water and salt. Combine to a loose/liquidy dip. Enjoy with Falafel.