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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Falafel... Tommy style!


My infatuation with falafel began at a long since forgotten restaurant in Michigan.  I was reintroduced to my lost love of this crispy delight by a dear friend after a late night in Washington D.C.   Quick Pita in Georgetown soon became a favored way to cap off a night on the town.

The Humble Chickpea

Then came another move and another loss of this flavorful treat - local eateries versions never really compared.  I suspect that most establishments rely on the dry powder version that can be found on most grocery store shelves.  What I longed for was the true blue prepared from scratch version I had fallen in love with...

Imagine my delight when I was listening to NPR at work one day and heard the story of NYC's own Tommy Tsatsaroni.  I was almost ready to plan a road trip to sample his wares when they announced at the end of the story that his recipe could be found on their website.

Jackpot.



I tried it at my earliest convenience and have never been without falafel since.  This recipe has been a constant companion for more than a decade and I've discovered ways to make the preparation easier and more uniform.

Tommy's recipe is excellent and requires very little in the way of modification.  I've found that it works equally well with dried parsley (about one cup when not using cilantro) and granulated garlic (about 1 tablespoon).  I'm not a fan of cilantro so I do not add that, but I will add some coriander seeds occasionally.  My taste buds also prefer a generous addition of cumin (a full tablespoon).  I've found apple cider vinegar to be a suitable stand in if my cupboard is lacking the standard white version.

The main change I have made to his recipe is to use a meat grinder rather than a food processor when preparing the chickpeas.



I will grind the chickpeas, as well as parsley and garlic when using fresh, and then mix in the remaining ingredients using my stand mixer.  Of course - this being my pantry purge month - I used the dry.

Grinding the chickpeas (top) give it an amazingly even texture.


  I find that grinding provides a more even texture to the falafel and prevents the chickpeas from being over processed, for there is a fine line between paste and mush when using a food processor for the chickpeas.

It also freezes exceptionally well - don't be afraid to make a double batch and set aside some for later!

I fry the falafel in olive oil rather than corn oil and use a small scoop to make bite size patties.

These scoops are great for cookies too.

Carefully drop the falafel from the scoop into the hot, but not smoking hot, oil.  I use the back of an oiled spatula to flatten gently.  You will know that they are ready to turn when the edges begin to dry and take on a slight golden hue.

Flatten gently with an oiled spatula.


The hard part is making sure that these golden bites of goodness don't get eaten before the table is set.

The tahini sauce in the recipe is also amazing and easy.
Lemon juice works well as a substitute for,or addition to the vinegar.


Enjoy -

Update - I recently purchased a Ninja Blender and it worked great for preparing this recipe!  Amazing.