Travelling East: Falafels
Even if my list of countries and cities I would like to visit is quite long, eastern destinations are not very present on it. I don't really know why, I'm most likely too scared to go anywhere in the middle east, and further on east requires more time and money that I have at the moment.
But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in their cuisine, obviously I like to eat chinese every now and than, and I even like to cook it myself sometimes. But for the middle east, beside the very popular Hummus, I can't say I've tried much so far.
However, I wanted to make Falafels for a while. I like chickpeas a lot, so this recipe is perfect for me. It kind of feels like a vegetarian kebab in a way. And I decided to make it all the way, so bare with me, the recipe is a bit longer than usual, because it includes the Pita bread, the white sauce and the Falafels.
Beside the pita breads' recipe taken from a book, I browsed around the internet and took ideas here and there for the white sauce and the falafels. Again, I did not go the deep frying way, which is what you are supposed to do for falafels, mine are cooked in the oven, and I liked the result.
Pitas (from "Pains de Tradition")
For 5-6 Pitas
7gr of Fresh Yeast
25cl of Tepid Water
375gr of Flour, plus extra for dusting
7gr of Salt
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
Get the yeast in a bowl with 5cl of Tepid water, combine well and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, so a bit of foam forms on top.
I used Nigella, my kitchenaid, for the dough. Put all ingredients, including the yeast, in the bowl with the dough hook. Start working slowly and increase the speed until the dough is smooth.
Form a ball with the dough and cover it with a cloth for 1h30.
Dust your working surface with flour and work your dough on it, separate it into 5 or 6 egal parts and roll them out to pita shape bread of about 5 milimeters thick.
Dust a piece of cloth with flour and place the pitas on it, and cover them with an other piece of cloth. Let them rise about 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 250°C with an oiled oven tray in it. When the oven is hot, place carefully the Pitas on the tray, and let them cook for 12 minutes.
1 Greek Yogurt
1 Clove of Garlic
1/4 of Cucumber
3 Tablespoons of Fresh Mint, chopped
In a bowl, whip the greek yogurt a little, add the crushed garlic clove.
Peel the cucumber and take the seeds out, make small dices so it combines well with the sauce.
Add the mint, a bit of olive oil and salt, mix again and try it to see if it needs more seasonning.
Place it in the fridge until you use it.
For 14-16 Falafels
500gr of Chickpeas
4 Cloves of Garlic
6 Tablespoons of Fresh Cilantro
3 Tablespoons of Bread Crumbs
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
2 Teaspoons of Turmeric (Curcuma)
1 Teaspoon of Dried Chillies
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
Preheat your oven to 220°C
Your chickpeas need to be cooked, so if you buy them canned you can start the recipe directly, if you buy them dry, you'll have to let them sink overnight and cook them as adviced on the package.
In a food processor, put in the chickpeas, the garlic, the cilantro and the juice of half a lemon. Blitz it to make some kind of paste.
Put that paste in a bowl and add the cumin, turmeric and dried chillies, combine with a spatula, or more easily, with your hand.
Add the breadcrumbs, the oil olive and some salt, combine again. Taste it to check the seasoning and see if you can form little balls. If it's too liquid add more breadcrumbs, if it's too dry add more olive oil.
Make balls about the size of a ping pong ball and roll them into sesame seeds. Put them in an oiled backing tray and drizzle some more olive oil on top.
Put them in the oven for about 30 minutes, try to turn them around half way thru. You can use the grill of your oven in the end to give them more color if you want.
Cut the pita bread open and put the vegetables you like: tomatoes, salad, onions, cabagge... whatever you fancy.
Add the falafels on top of the vegetables and top everything with the white sauce, close your pita bread and serve it while it's hot.