Felafel was always one of my favorite things, even before I went vegan. I had never really cooked them much before going vegan though, I guess figuring that it’s one of those things that you just kind of eat when you are at a restaurant.
After the transition though, I determined that I need to know how to cook these things, as they are a great source of protein, and found it’s not hard at all to make felafel at home. The trickiest part is adjusting the spices to your own preference. Because of that, please take this recipe as a guide on techniques and a starting point. This is how I like MY felafels, personally, but you may like a little less of this or more of that.
I have some friends that avoid extra oil out there – for you guys, I have a good feeling that you could bake these, but I have not yet tried it. I’d love to hear your results if you do!
Making your own pita bread to go with these is also quite easy (I did black pita with activated bamboo charcoal in the picture.) I’ll post that recipe too, later. It’s one of those that I don’t do a lot of measuring with, so i have to make it again and actually use the measuring cups. 🙂
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My favorite tweaks on felafel. Feel free to play around with the spices to fit your taste buds. These are very forgiving and easy to modify in all kinds of ways.
Soak Chickpeas overnight in a big bowl of water. The chickpeas will expand their size 2-3 times during soaking so make sure the bowl and water level can handle the volume.
In a spice grinder, grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, fenugreek, cardamom and salt until fine. If you want a little kick, feel free to add red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste (start at about 1/2 tsp)
Drain the chickpeas and place them in a food processor with the onion, garlic, flour, baking powder, the ground spice mix and the turmeric and oregano. Process until everything is ground fine (but not mush.) The mixture should be crumbly and slightly wet. This mixture can be refrigerated until you are ready to use it. (A couple of hours in the refrigerator seems to help the felafels hold together a little better at the start of frying.)
In a large pan, heat up about 1/4-1/2 inch of oil over medium-high. Test a small ball of the felafel mixture to see if the oil is ready. It should sizzle but not cook so fast that the outside burns before the inside is cooked.
Roll the felafel mixture into roughly golf-ball sized portions and flatten slightly before placing them in the oil. Don't crowd the pan! It's best to do these in several batches of 6 or so at a time if your pan is big enough. Slightly damp hands will help prevent the mixture sticking to your hands. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, until nicely browned. You can really make them any size you like, just keep them flattish-if you make them too big and round, the inside will be raw while the outside is burnt (and raw chickpeas taste like crap..that's the technical term for very bitter.)
Make sure that you don't move these around much until you are fairly sure the first side is browned, otherwise they could start to fall apart, and that's a pain.
Remove to paper towels or a cooling rack to drain excess oil. Serve with Tahina Sauce and Pitas.
Nice condiments for this dish are onions, pickles of almost any sort (especially Lebanese turnip pickles), hot sauce, tabbouleh or a side of hummus.