The world is grateful for the chickpea, it provides protein in a vegetable form for a huge number of people from the chana masala and pakora eaten in India, to the hummus and falafel eaten in the Middle East. Here is my recipe for falafel. The biggest mistake that is made in making falafel, is to use cooked chickpeas. It's possible of course to make a rissole type morsel from cooked chickpeas, but they wont be falafel. Chick peas have the ability to bind with other ingredients without the use of egg, this is true of both the flour as seen in pakora click here for the recipe and the ground up raw chickpeas in this recipe. I always like to add a little vegetable when I make falafel, this can be a small amount of carrot, a stalk of broccoli, a piece of green or red pepper or in this case a stick of celery. I also add a teaspoon of sugar to the mix to counter the slight bitterness of the gram flour.
For this recipe you will need;
250g of dried chickpeas soaked for 8 hours or overnight.
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 stick of celery
A small bunch of flat leafed parsley, about 2 tablespoons when finely chopped
140g of gram flour
2 teaspoons of Marigold bouillon powder or 1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 small red chilli
1 teaspoon of sugar
Begin by grinding up the garlic, chilli, parsley. celery and seasoning in a food processor. Add half the soaked chickpeas and process until you have a medium coarse mix. Tip the mix out into a large bowl and place the remaining chickpeas in the food processor with a couple of tablespoons of water and blend to a smooth paste. Add to the other mix along with the gram flour and mix together, adding just enough water to be able to make a cohesive mix that you can form into small balls to deep fry. I use two spoons to make small quenelle. Heat up a large container of vegetable oil to 180C and deep fry about 8 to 10 at a time. Deep frying should always be carried out in a container half filled with oil so that the oil has room to expand without spilling over. I use a large karhai or Indian wok. Fry for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and crisp. Although falafel are perfectly good cooled down, there is nothing quite as lovely as a falafel that has just been fried, the outside is crisp, the inside, tender, steaming and moist. The crunchy texture of the outside is enhanced by not over grinding the chickpeas initially, creating a medium course texture.
You can vary the flavour by adding a little freshly ground cumin seeds to the mix.
In Egypt fava beans are often used in place of chickpeas.
The worst falafel I ever had the misfortune to eat were in Bethlehem, I think the oil they were cooked in dated back quite possibly to biblical times.