Tuesday, 22 April 2008
My partner for Taste & Create (T&C) VIII is Val (More Than Burnt Toast). When you go to her site, you are presented with a banner of a beautiful sunset over a lake in the mountains and the following wise words:
….living the dream through good food, good friends and good times
Be yourself, everyone else is taken
I couldn’t ask for a better partner! Except… how on earth to choose what to make?!
I happily wandered through the Val’s recipes and at last, managed to narrow (ha!) the list down to:
- Cheddar English Muffin Loaves
- Potato Bread
- Spud Island Biscuits
- Greek lemon oregano potatoes
- Halloumi with lemon and capers
- Eggplant in Filo
- Rolled Baklava
- Pasteli (Sesame Snaps)
- Brined Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons
- Corn Fritters
- Penne Romanoff
- Felafel with goatcheese sauce
- Favourite Felafel
- Ricardo’s Falafel with Tarator Bi Tahina Sauce
Hmmm, not very narrowed down. Drastic measures had to be taken. Because for this event, I was to choose only one dish.
It is clear that Val’s first love is Greek food, that was obviously the direction to go. And after much deliberation, decided to go with “Greek lemon oregano potatoes”. But wait! That just ended up as a post for Weekend Herb Blogging.
And here’s why. As we were looking again at the short list (ha!), we decided we had to try making felafel. We love felafel! And haven’t had felafel for ages. One of our favourite places for felafel
is was in Kensington Market. The restaurant has been closed for months for renovations. We neeeeeeeded a felafel fix!
Even though there are three separate felafel recipes to choose from on Val’s site, it wasn’t a difficult choice. Her “favourite” was the obvious one. And now it’s our favourite too! In fact, we loved the felafel so much the first time that we made them again two days later.
What intrigued us most was that the felafel are made from uncooked dried chickpeas. That’s right. Uncooked! They are soaked overnight to soften them before grinding. I must say we were a little concerned that the chickpeas wouldn’t soften enough and that they’d wreck the food processor.
So we each tasted a chickpea after they had been soaking for about 10 hours. Amazing! It was reminiscent of a soft peanut. No problem putting those in the food processor….
Naturally, we had to have more than just felafel. T really wanted tahini sauce. And I really wanted the sauce from Felafel with Goat Cheese Sauce because of the phrase: “I love the goat cheese sauce!!“. I also wanted red cabbage salad. And we both wanted harissa. And pita. Of course, pita.
Our Favourite Felafel
revised 30 June 2008
If we didn’t know how great cooked felafel is, we’d eat it like cookie dough directly out of the mixing bowl.
makes about 21 felafel
- 1 c dried chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
- pinch baking soda
- ½ large onion, chopped (1 cup)
- Good fistful of fresh parsley
- Good fistful of fresh coriander leaf (aka cilantro)
- 1 tsp seasalt
- 1 tsp crushed chili flakes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 – 6 Tbsp flour
- sunflower oil for frying
- On the evening before making felafel, sort, wash and rinse the dried chickpeas well and place in a large bowl. Add plenty of cold water (with a pinch of baking soda) to cover by at least 2 inches. Cover the bowl and allow the chickpeas to soak overnight in a coolish spot. (The original recipe says “Or use canned chickpeas, drained”.)
- The next day, remove any floating chickpeas. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Pour the drained, uncooked chickpeas into a food processor. Add 1 Tbsp water. Whirl briefly til the chickpeas are about the size of regular small peas.
- Add onion, parsley, coriander leaf, seasalt, chili flakes, garlic and cumin powder. Process until blended but not puréed.
- Add baking powder and some of the flour, and pulse. Add just enough flour so that dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Put the sludge into a bowl (Taste it! It’s fabulous already!) and refrigerate, covered for at least two hours.
- Heat oil in a wok. Form the mixture into small patties and place them separately on a plate.
- Test the oil with the handle of a wooden spoon. When it bubbles, the oil is ready. Fry the patties in a single layer in the hot oil, turning once so they are browned and crisp on both sides. (The original recipe says to test the mixture by making only one falafel. “If it falls apart, add a little flour”.) Drain on a wire rack.
Serve the felafel with pita, diced onions and tomatoes, goat’s cheese sauce, harissa, tahini sauce, parsley, coriander leaf and/or red cabbage salad.
To make the red cabbage salad, we used thinly sliced red cabbage and dressed it with a few Thompson raisins, thinly sliced onion, grainy mustard, cider vinegar, seasalt, pepper, olive oil and trace of garam masala.
According to the epicurious.com recipe, in Egypt falafel are made without coriander leaf and with fava beans instead of chickpeas. Joan Nathan also mentions the following: “To garnish your falafel in true Israeli style, try adding one or several of the following condiments: harissa hot sauce, pickled turnip […], mango amba (pickle), or sauerkraut.”
- garam masala
- My Favorite Falafel (from by The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan)According to Sally and Martin Stone in The Brilliant Bean, most dried beans double in volume and weight after being soaked and cooked. Soybeans and chickpeas can triple.
“As a general rule, 1 cup (8oz) of dried beans increases to 2 to 2½ c (1 to 1¼ lb) of cooked beans. One cup of dried beans is usually enough to serve four as a side dish.”
… (1 lb = 453.6 gm)
The thing that is really great about these is that they stay crispy for ages! Even after sitting in the fridge overnight. Homemade felafel are fabulous. We’re unlikely to get takeout felafel again. In fact, if we want felafel for a picnic, we’ll make some and bring them from home. They’re almost as good cold as they are hot.
Many thanks, Bellini Valli, for all the wonderful new dishes but especially for the felafel!
Nicole (For the Love of Food) runs a very cool event. She assigns each of the participants a partner and invites them to wander through their partners’ archives to find and recreate a dish that appeals to them. And then blog about it…. She wrote:
What it’s all about: community, sharing, tasting, and blogging. This is a gathering point for the food-blogger community to come and have their recipes tested by their peers.
For complete details about Taste&Create, please see
- For the Love of Food: Taste&Create VIII (includes the round-up to Taste&Create VII)
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans, garbanzo peas, ceci beans, Egyptian peas, chole) were originally cultivated in North Africa and the Middle East around 5000 B.C. They were introduced into Europe via Spain by the Carthaginians. They are now widely cultivated in India and other parts of Asia. They are a good source of nutrition, being rich in protein, calcium, iron and Vitamin B. Because they have a very hard casing, they require at least 4 hours of soaking before being cooked.
In The Brilliant Bean, Sally and Martin Stone suggest that the soaking water should be discarded:
There is some controversy about cooking beans in their soaking water versus draining and cooking them in fresh water [concerning] nutrition and digestibility. Discarding the soaking water means that some of the water-soluble B vitamins and bean protein are discarded with it. But the amount is so little (1 percent to 3 percent) that in the long run it’s not worth worrying about. Remember you’re also draining off the oligosaccharides that produce gas.
Please read more about chickpeas:
edit 2 May 2008 Nicole has posted the Taste & Create VIII roundup as well as details for T&C IX
edit 30 June 2008 * It has come to my attention that the recipe for My Favorite Falafel that Val used is presented on epicurious.com with a prominent note at the top saying it was reprinted with permission from The Foods of Israel Today © 2001 by Joan Nathan.
edit July 2014: A while back, when we first tried Anissa Helou’s Lablabi (chickpea soup), we discovered to our surprise that adding a pinch of baking soda to the soaking water helps to soften the beans AND if they’re going to be cooked for something like hummus, reduces their cooking time drastically. Now, we ALWAYs add a pinch of baking soda to any dried beans we’re soaking.
[A]fter washing the chickpeas well, we threw a bit of baking soda into their soaking water and left them to see what they would do overnight. [The next] morning, we drained and rinsed away all the soaking water, added new water and cooked the chickpeas. For only 30 minutes. And they were ready. […] Yes, indeed. If your chickpeas WON’T get soft no matter how many hours they are cooked, use a little baking soda in the soaking water!!
-me, chickpea soup with harissa and croutons (MLLA #19), blog from OUR kitchen
» chickpea soup with harissa and croutons (MLLA #19)
» at last, great hummus (MLLA#24/Real Food)
» samosas and chole
» at last – good homemade veggie burgers (HotM)
» Gosh! Awsh is Good!
» using dried chickpeas