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Falafel Recipe

Eid ul Fitr menu - Falafel Eid ul Fitr - Falafel

Falafels are that ubiquitous Middle Eastern item – savoury, crunchy, fried balls of beany-goodness. Some may say falafels are Israeli, there may be other countries laying claim to the source of these delicious vegetarian protein-packed treats, but I am no food historian, so I won’t get into the debate. You can check out Wikipedia. Falafels are great on their own, eat with a tahini (Middle Eastern sesame seed paste) dip, or as shown above with one of the chutneys Trinis serve with all our savoury deep fried goodies – in this case a boiled mango chutney. In fact, falafels are so similar to Trini kachouries (ground yellow split pea fritter), that they should be recognised as siblings. Falafels are also commonly served popped into pita bread, for a deliciously filling sandwich. Falafel like this is street food, and like the Trini doubles, or bake and shark, they’re sold with “a vast variety of ingredients and sauces to fill … falafel (pita) sandwiches” (burekaboy‘s Falafel 101 is an excellent guide and recipe to perhaps more authentic Falafel).

While the most commonly found falafel is made from chickpeas (channa, an ingredient extremely familiar to Caribbean people, especially Trinis), Egyptians traditionally made theirs from fava beans. Mom always made hers using lentils and bulgur wheat. Much more like a vegetarian kibbe actually. She says it’s because she never liked fava beans, so…lentils…after all she grew up with it in jedra!. And burekaboy noted that his Lebanese neighbours added bulgur. So Syrian-Lebanese-Trini variation maybe.

This recipe is really simple. Really. Soak beans for 24 hours, add lots of fresh herbs and aromatics. Use food processor or blender if you want a smoother texture. And fry. Voila. Don’t believe me?

Makes about 40

  • 1/2 lb dry chick peas
  • 1/2 lb dry lentils (or use 1 lb chick peas)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped fresh herbs of your choice (parsley, chives, shadow benny/cilantro etc)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp geera (cumin)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • salt and black pepper to taste (taste the batter raw, go ahead)
  • possibly a few tbsps of flour (or dhal flour)

optional: some fresh bird or other hot pepper to your tolerance level Eid ul Fitr - Falafel

1. Soak beans in enough water to cover about 2 inches over. Add baking soda. Leave for 18-24 hours.

2. Rinse beans well and let drain.

3. Put beans and all other ingredients in food processor or blender and zap away. (I like the food processor because I like it chunkier – it’s super crunchy that way and I love the texture).

4. You can store this in the fridge for a couple days, although I have noticed that it might need a little flour to bind after this.

5. Put about 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot and heat to medium high.

6. Check the mix to see if it needs flour – squeeze a golf ball sized in your hand and see if it sticks together. If it does, then take a heaping tablespoon of the mix, shape into a slightly flattened ball and fry. If it holds up and doesn’t burn, then you’re good to go without flour and the oil isn’t too hot. If the mixture breaks up in your hand or in the oil, then add a few tablespoons of flour and mix so it can be shaped easily. Until you get the hang of it, fry one at a time. Keep hands moist.

7. Fry the falafel until golden brown (lentils in the mixture will make it a bit browner) and drain on paper.

Serve with a tahini dip (maybe recipe to follow, although I relied on Mom to do this!) or a spicy Trini chutney (tamarind is really really good).

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11 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. For some reason I’ve always overlooked Middle Eastern food when dining out or getting take-out for some reason. The young couple who lived next door were vegetarians and always raved about the Falafels from a particular fast food joint. Now that I’m experimenting more with foods, I’ll give this a try and invite them over.

    Is there a meat version for me? :)

    Happy Cooking


    2. Chris De La Rosa on October 16th, 2009 at 7:55 am
  2. This is one of those things that has been bookmarked soooooo many times to try and I haven’t yet gotten around to it :)

    3. Cynthia on October 16th, 2009 at 8:50 am
  3. Hey Chris – falafels are great, and alot like a kachourie. They are essentially vegetarian, but you could always add some minced beef or lamb to the mix. Or…try the fried kibbe, which is made with bulgur wheat and meat.

    Cynthia – you could try it this way, or follow the burekaboy method I linked to, which uses a blender to make more of a smooth paste and decide which texture you prefer (since I know you like to fully experience a new recipe :-D)

    4. Chennette on October 16th, 2009 at 9:04 am
  4. those look really great even the bright ones

    5. Lilandra on October 16th, 2009 at 11:20 pm
  5. thanks – actually, I used my slightly increased GIMP experience to tweak the 2 older ones, and for the bright bright one, I was experimenting this year and thought it looked pretty cool :-)

    6. Chennette on October 16th, 2009 at 11:32 pm
  6. The first time I had falafel I thought it was a modified kachourie. The girl who made the falafel, a young Syrian girl from Trinidad, swore the recipe was exactly how her father made it and how it is made in Syria.It is how she still makes it. It is Arabic food from what I know and it is available at all the Arabic fast-food places in Trinidad. I like them along with hummus and lamb kebabs. Nice recipe :)

    7. aka_lol on October 18th, 2009 at 12:10 pm
  7. I LOVE falafel. I miss the falafel carts in NYC and don’t make them enough at home.

    8. Abigail on October 23rd, 2009 at 1:56 pm
  8. I have always wanted to make falafels but have neter attempted, not sure why. Yours look great and encourage me to make them soon:)

    9. farida on October 30th, 2009 at 2:09 pm
  9. It’s so easy, the first time I made it on my own I was hooked – it’s great for entertaining, once you don’t mind the frying part!

    10. Chennette on October 30th, 2009 at 3:36 pm
  10. I’m a huge falafel fan and make them (with tahini) almost every week when I’m at home in NY. I conduct research in Trinidad 4 months out of the year, and though I can find all the ingredients for the falafels I cannot find tahini, which for me is an essential. Any idea where one might find tahini in Trinidad?

    12. Julian on February 6th, 2010 at 5:52 pm
  11. Hi Julian

    I used to buy tahini at Peppercorns in Ellerslie Plaza Maraval (or when they had other branches). I thought many large supermarkets sometimes carry it now, like HiLo etc but as I am not home in Trinidad regularly, I guess I can’t be sure – Adam’s Bagels in Maraval will definitely have tahini. They sell alot of middle eastern foods and supplies. There are other gourmet shops now opening in Trinidad – I recently heard about this one Vanilla Bean Gourmet Store 693-0627, 145 Munroe Rd, Cunupia (I have never been so don’t know any details – they have a facebook page).

    13. Chennette on February 8th, 2010 at 1:02 am

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] compared to some of our neighbours in Central Trinidad. We grew up knowing bulgur wheat, kibbe and falafel. Tahini (sesame paste) and Halawi (sweet made from ground sesame seeds) were much-desired and […]

  2. […] Falafel […]

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