Falafel on the Fly
After a huge brekky Sunday morning at Skillet (more on that later this week), lunch was pretty much out of the question and even the burgers I’d planned on for dinner seemed a stretch. Then I thought, what about a veggie burger…what about falafel?
I leave the deep frying to the experts, mostly because I don’t want to deal with the clean-up or saving the oil, so I knew these would be shallow-fried in a deep skillet. As much as everyone swears by the various box mixes out there, I wanted to see how dried chickpeas would do. A poster on Chowhound pointed to Mark Bittman’s falafel recipe as her fave (I should have known!), and it fit the bill. Dried, not canned chickpeas, and no fillers.
Because this idea occurred to me around 2 pm, I did the quick-soak method on the chickpeas. Chickpeas go into a Dutch oven, covered by at least an inch of water, bring it to a boil, cook for 2 minutes. Cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for an hour or so. Bittman’s recipe isn’t skimpy on the spices, so you’re going to get flavorful falafel.
In the comments section in the Times, a few people reported problems with the falafel falling apart in the pan while frying. When forming the patties, make sure they’re well packed together. I still got a couple that broke while frying, but it wasn’t a complete meltdown. I also used a stainless steel skillet, could have also gone cast iron, to help ensure good browning and crunchiness. And I gotta tell you, these guys still had some good crunchy bits, despite not being deep fried.
Serve with a little tzatziki and a cucumber-tomato salad dressed with a red wine vinaigrette and you’re in business. Or you can do them as little appetizer bites with a dollop of the yogurt sauce.
Now, if you’ve got a great little falafel joint near your house, you don’t need to go to trouble, but we’re hundreds of miles from our favorite, Falafel’s Drive-In, down in San Jose, CA. It’s an institution. If you’re ever in that neck of the woods, definitely get the falafel and banana shake combo. As I was making these falafel, all that was missing was their hot sauce.