Friday, November 15, 2013

Baked Falafel

Delicious falafel with a little twist
Source: Improvised based on this recipe from Epicurious

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 3 (out of 5) - for scraping the food processor, rolling and refrigeration

Ingredients:
- 2 cups dried garbanzo beans / chickpeas
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp hot red pepper
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 tbsp / 1/4 cup flour
- 4 tbsp / 1/4 cup peanut butter
Total: about 40 falafels

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, soak the dried chickpeas in cold / lukewarm water at room temperature overnight. The water level should be 1-2 inches above the chickpeas, and the bowl should be large enough to have room for the chickpeas to double in volume, as they absorb the water. Drain the chickpeas before continuing, but reserve a little liquid just in case your falafel mix turns out a bit dry.
2. Now you will need a food processor. If your food processor is large enough to accommodate all the ingredients, you can first process the chickpeas with the onion. You want to reach fine grainy consistency (like uncooked chia seeds), but not puree them (that would be hummus). You might want to pulse the food processor several times and scrape the sides of the bowl periodically to get uniform texture. Then add the rest of the ingredients and pulse more.
3. My processor is 9 cups, so I processed the chickpeas in 2 batches: half the chickpeas with all the flour and peanut butter. I processed this batch to an almost-paste consistency, In the second batch I processed the rest of the ingredients until they had a grainy texture. Then I combined the 2 batches and mixed in the baking powder at the very end.
4. Your "batter" should be still grainy but should be sticky enough to hold the shape when rolled into balls. Refrigerate the batter for 2-3 hours.
5. Shape the mix into small balls, approximately the size of a ping pong ball, and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. You can also freeze the falafels at this stage. Place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for 4 hours or more, and once they are completely frozen, remove them from the sheet into freezer bag and store until needed. If the frozen falafels stick to the baking sheet on which they were frozen, place the sheet on a towel soaked in hot water for several seconds, and it will release the falafels. To prepare the baked falafels, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight, and proceed to the next step.
6. Preheat the oven to 400F and bake the falafels for 10 minutes. Then turn on the broiler to high and broil for 3 more minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and serve with warm pita bread, pickles and tahina.

Afterthoughts:
- I tried several other falafel recipes, but they ended up too dry. Maybe this would not be a big obstacle for deep-fried falafels, because the hot oil would keep the batter together, but if you bake them, they simply fall apart. Hence the addition of the secret ingredient: the peanut butter! It is sticky and helps keep the mix together. And it adds a nice subtle flavor. In most circumstances I am not a fan of peanut butter, but I think that in this recipe it's a great addition.
- Don't over-bake your falafels. They will never look as brown and crisp as the deep fried ones. But that's ok. They will still taste moist and yummy, and since they go inside the pita, you won't really see them that much.
- If you are allergic to peanut butter, try another nut butter instead, like tahini (sesame seed butter), cashew butter, etc.

2 comments:

Angie Schneider said...

LOVE falafel and this baked version looks so intriguing!

Abby Edgley Edgley said...

This looks so creamy and tasty. I have always 'missed' the onion flavour while making Jain gravy, this recipe inspires me to try it out.http://www.luluhypermarket.com/GoodLife/get-stuffed-on-pepper-quiche-cups-zzfowd88.html