This is my small contribution to the falafel making discussions. I have till now, only ever either made a packet mix one or bought someone else’s and re-heated them. I have read many posts and people saying sadly that their falafel fell apart and what was the secret, so I have been reading and asking a little and Lynne has been making them too and I think between us we are establishing some clues….
I haven’t got hard and fast quantities to offer you because at the end of the day how you season your falafel is really up to you. Salt, chilli, spices – we all like different strengths and combinations but I will summarise where I have got to from this weekend’s experiments.
We used soaked but uncooked pulses to make the falafel. From what I’ve heard it doesn’t work very well with cooked pulses so you can’t use tinned ones.
We read various writers and got a tad confused, but I like the sound of this one which used fava beans from Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food and used her recipe as my guide. It is a fairly brief recipe and she doesn’t say how much salt to add.
I found these very exciting dried fava beans at Bristol Sweet Mart in St Marks Rd, Easton.
Claudia Roden says that it is typical to make falafel with these beans in Egypt when they are available. She talks about dried peeled beans, these Lebanese ones with skins on were the only ones I could find. She says it is more common to use chickpeas (garbanzo beans in US) in Israel. However we love broad beans and they are definitely sweeter and juicier in falafel than regular chickpeas, so worth using if you can find them.
St Brian peeled the favas once they had soaked for 24 hours. He discovered a couple had dead beetles inside them – those of you who have grown broad beans will know how prone they are to being attacked by all sorts of insect life – but he figured out that the ones with a tell tale hole had the beetles in, so he threw those all away and we continued – we are still here, as are many people around the world who I am sure routinely consume beetles and other insects mixed in with their food, we probably all consume insect eggs in our pasta and flour related products and are unaware of it, worth a thought and of course, if you read The New Yorker, insects are a deeply fashionable foodie item. Sorry, where were we?
I soaked about 400g (half the bag) of these big fava beans and about 200 g of chickpeas. I soaked them all for a really long time, over 24 hours. Then it was onto the teatowels to dry out and be skinned. (only the fava beans were skinned, not the chickpeas which have softer skins)
We debated doing one lot with chickpeas and one lot with fava beans and in the end, we mixed them up.
- 400 g dried soaked and peeled fava beans
- 200g dried, soaked chickpeas
Dry on tea towels, really as dry as you can get them. Leave them out if necessary to dry for a few hours.
- two big handfuls of fresh coriander and fresh flat leaf parsley
- a medium sized onion
Chop finely in the food processor – again I had to guess for how long here but it came out ok with a few shreddy bits. If you want golden middles to your falafel omit the herbs and use something like turmeric to colour the insides.
Process the soaked pulses in a food processor or blender until they are soft and barely gritty to the touch. They are quite hard to do as they are so dry so we ended up taking big spoonfuls out and redoing them several times. Do not think this is a quick process unless you have a dedicated food processor, the food processor attachment on the Kenwood is fairly small.
Mix the reserved green herbs and onions that you processed previously in with the processed pulses.
Add (here you might want to adjust quantities as it is very much a question of personal taste)
- 6 large garlic cloves which had been put through a garlic press
- 1½ tsp of seasalt,
- 2-3 tsps of freshly ground cumin
- 2-3 tsps of ground coriander seed,
- ¼-½ tsp of hot chilli powder
- a tsp of baking powder.
We left the paste to chill for an hour in the fridge and cooked some the first night to see if they were going to hold together or fall apart.
We made quite small pucks as we wanted them to cook through and I thought if they were too big the outsides would get very dark before the middles were cooked. I have ordered a gadget to make them with, but it didn’t come in time for this batch.
They are very soft, so you either have to have a delicate touch as you lower them into the cooking oil and nerves of steel like Brian or use a thin edged scoop or something like that. [I know it looks as if he is putting his fingers in there, but trust me, he didn’t!]
I experimented with covering some in sesame seeds and they came out quite nicely with a bit of extra crunch, but it all got even messier so I gave up on that quite quickly. Then I pressed clingfilm into the top of the remainder of the paste and put it in the fridge.
The second day they shaped up more easily and we cooked them all off and have frozen them for future meals.
We used sunflower oil to cook them in a flat bottomed wok, about seven at a time so as not to lower the temperature of the oil too much.
Ours took about three minutes to cook on a medium heat. We cooked them till they turned a darkish brown colour, they should float up in the oil, and the oil should ‘foam’ when you put them in.
Put them on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil and eat with fresh Dan Lepard style pitta bread, chilli sauce, tahini sauce and salad one night and as a side dish to our roast lamb the following night. We also had roast butternut squash and red peppers reheated (from our pastry extravaganza two days before).
I made a sauce to go with all this which Brian thought was a pretty good compromise – he has a particular passion for old fashioned English mint sauce –
My Special sauce for Falafel and Roast Lamb
- Two big spoonfuls of home made yoghurt
- Loads of freshly chopped mint
- Juice of half a squeezed lemon
- a drizzle of olive oil
- a splash of apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
♥ Lynne ♥ has kindly shared the following useful thoughts from her recent falafel experiments :
- The Moro recipe said to use a mix of cooked beans and “soaked but uncooked” but I did not do that…I just used the soaked but uncooked. It had an egg in it and I did that and think that did help to stop it disintegrating.
- I put a few spoons of chick pea flour and I think that helped to bind
- In a full size Magimix food processor the whole thing grinds up in seconds with no trouble…I just chucked it all in and ground to within an inch of its life.
- I fried at 180 degrees in olive oil in a deep fat fryer which was pretty foolproof
- I made the patties the day I ground them but cooked them the day after and I think that helped them to dry out…portioned out with an ice cream scoop so they were the same size.
- I maybe made them a bit big…more like golf balls than walnuts (Moro recommended walnuts in size but not in actuality).
- Nigel Slater advises to rub the soaked chick peas to get the skins off but I did not do that.
- Someone said to use plenty of salt so I added a whole teaspoon..I found it impossible to gauge taste when it was all raw…I think it is trial and error
- I added some dried garlic as well as the fresh just because the packet mix has it
- Felicity Cloake on The Guardian website when making Hummus soaked the chick peas with a bit of bicarb and I did that …just a couple of pinches because she warns it can go soapy.
Plenty of falafel food for thought for us all and any experiences you have had we would love to hear about, successes or failures ! Lynne is currently working on rosti trials at home. Mmm I love rosti!
If you can get the dried broad beans do try them as they are very good!