Long ago, before I moved to New York, I would hear stories from Jenna about all the cheap and tasty food that she missed in NY when she got homesick. There were the big fat quesadillas and burritos at Benny’s Burritos, the Hijiki-Tofu Patties from Dojo, the Chinese food from House of Vegetarian, and most of all the Falafel Sandwiches from Mamoun’s in the West Village. Coming from a part of the country that used to lack authenticity in certain culinary genres, I always got jealous. And hungry.
We’ve been making efforts to eat less meat in our diet again lately, so I made falafels last week, using a recipe someone gave me a long time ago when I decided I should just cook the foods I craved if I couldn’t get them where I lived. The chickpeas are not cooked before frying, only soaked in water overnight. They should be ground up in a food processor until they just start coming together, but not too much so that they might become a paste. Easy enough to make, as long as you don’t mind the deep-frying.
Falafel (makes about 15-18 patties)
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
juice of 1/2 lemon
Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight. The next day, drain them well, then put them into a food processor. Grind them until they will hold their shape, but not enough that they become a paste. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well ground and fully incorporated. Form into balls or patties about 2 inches across and refrigerate while the oil heats up.
Begin heating about 6 cups of vegetable oil in a large saucepan. When it reaches about 350°F you should start frying the falafel. Carefully drop them in one at a time, and cook them for about 4 minutes, or until they are golden brown on the outside and fully cooked on the inside. Repeat until they are all cooked. Serve immediately. They can be made into pita sandwiches, or served with other middle eastern items (tabbouleh, tzatziki, hummus, etc…) as part of a mixed platter.