The origins of falafel are as contentious as territorial debates in the Middle Eastern world. The great falafel debate — whether it originated in Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and yes, even India — has garnered a legitimate food fight on who invented these delicious little chickpea fritters. Heck, they are so delicious, anyone that can be credited with the invention deserves serious admiration! I reckon, no one can really prove its origins as local cuisines were adapted in various countries with new immigrants from various cultures. Where ever its origins, these fried chickpea balls are beyond tasty and need to be made for you and your family to enjoy!
I was once told by an Arab woman that you can tell the freshness and quality of a falafel by the colour of the insides of the falafel. If the insides are brown and dull, the falafel was probably made by a mix or it is not as fresh as it should be. A fresh falafel should have insides that are green and vibrant!
Fresh herbs give this falafel its signature green colour. The colour is gorgeous and bright and has an earthy, delicious taste about it.
The falafel crumb should resemble the size of couscous. If the crumb is too large, it will not form together into a patty and will produce too much of a crumb in your mouth. If crumb is too fine, it will under-cook when you fry it (the oil needs to get in and around the insides of the falafel while frying and if the mixture is too tight – almost like a paste – it will not fry properly). As a side note, you should always use dried chickpeas and rehydrate them rather than using canned chickpeas which tend to have too much water in them and will make the formed patties disintegrate when they hit the hot oil.
Flash-freezing the patties really helps to keep them together when you fry them. I have fried these right after I had formed them into patties (without freezing) when I was in a pinch and needed them right away and they held up okay. Flash-freezing them just ensures that they will always fry up perfectly!
You can store leftovers in a freezer bag after they are frozen solid (don’t stack the patties together until they are flash-frozen on a pan or the patties will stick together). When you are ready to use the frozen falafel, do not thaw them before frying them!
1 lb dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 bunch (3 lightly packed cups) curly-leaf parsley
1/2 bunch (1 lightly packed cup) cilantro
10-12 large mint leaves
6 large cloves garlic
1 medium white onion
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Oil for frying
Wash the beans and soak them in a large bowl with cold water (the beans will double in size overnight, so be sure to add a good amount of water; enough to cover the top of the beans by a couple of inches, at least). Soak the beans over night (12-14 hours). Give the beans another rinse and then drain the beans in a sieve or colander to remove as much moisture as possible. Set aside.
Roughly chop the cilantro, parsley, mint, garlic and white onion. Add the mixture to a food processor and pulse the processor a few times (approximately 15 times/pulses) to incorporate the ingredients and ensure the onion are chopped small. If your food processor is not very large, remove half of this mixture after pulsing and set aside in a bowl.
Put half of the drained chickpeas in the food processor and pulse in increments of 20 pulses for 4-5 times. (That is, pulse the food processor for 1/2 a second at a time for about 20 times — using a spatula, push down the ingredients that collect on the sides and pulse for 20 times again for 1/2 second each. Repeat the process again until you have completed 80-100 pulses and you have reached the correct consistency.) The mixture should not be mashed. It should have small little crumbs resembling couscous, and be well incorporated. Remove the mixture into a large bowl and set aside. Add the remaining chickpeas and the second half of the herb/garlic/onion mixture to the food processor and repeat the above 80-100 pulses until it resembles the other half of the mixture.
Remove this second mixture in to the same large bowl and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, cumin powder, and coriander powder. Add the flour slowly until the mixture starts to come together. Use your hand to form the mixture into a ball. If it doesn’t form in to a ball, add a bit more flour but don’t exceed the 1/4 cup of flour.
Form the mixture into small patties using your palms to shape them and slightly flatten them. Put the patties side-by-side on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flash-freeze the patties by placing the baking sheet in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes until they are hard and are easier to fry without falling apart.
Add enough oil to a deep-sided frying pan or fryer to deep fry the falafels. The temperature of the oil should be 350°F (177°C). Fry the patties until they are golden and remove them onto a plate lined with a napkin to drain the excess oil.
RECIPES OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS: Strawberry and Orange Paletas and Pad Thai and Fluffy French Toast and Perfectly Poached Eggs and Raspberry Lemonade and Spicy Barbecue Chicken Pizza and Garlic Chicken and Frittata and Vegetable and Herb Quinoa