In 1994, my generous parents paid for me to go on a tour of Israel. I was single at the time, and went with my sister, brother-in-law, and a friend who was my room-mate. We joined a group who went on a 10 day detailed tour all over the country. I am not really a tour bus kind of person, to be honest, but in a place like Israel, where everything seems to mean something, or where ‘this olive tree dates back 2,000 years’, a guided tour is not just appreciated, but necessary.
It was unlike any place I’ve ever been. The varied beauty, from the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee, the desert of Masada, Jerusalem and it’s walls, and the markets full of the brightest colors I had ever seen. There were also things I never had dealt with before, such as unrest between religions and cultures, which led to us being restricted from visiting certain areas and towns because it wasn’t safe. Travel really is the best education.
I distinctly remember this tour taking us to a Falafel stand during one of our first few day trips. I must have had Falafel before, after all, I lived in Toronto, but I knew this was going to be a different experience.
It was a modest stand, probably family run. I had no idea how or what to order so I just followed whatever everybody else did and had the classic Falafel and asked for all the toppings I could see. I was a little concerned, after all, how could a fried legume be any good?
It. was. perfection. It must have been, because I still have a picture of the man who made it for me almost 25 years ago. Not a great picture, but I obviously thought the moment was worth remembering.
It was perfectly cooked, seasoned, sized. The pita it came in was warm and obviously a family recipe that had been perfected for years. Sigh. Sadness ensued when I realized I would probably never eat here again.
I ate at many other Falafel stands during my stay in Israel, but seeing as that was my first authentic Falafel, it will always be the one I remember most.
A few years ago here in Mexico, someone decided to theme one of our gatherings middle-eastern. I LOVE any food themed gathering, but something like that in this part of the world? I was afraid would not be easy to make food for. Non-the-less, I decided to play game and try to make Falafel. Surprisingly, it was easy to find all the ingredients; after all, nothing in it is out of the world that we couldn’t get our hands on.
This version probably isn’t the most authentic, but I like it. Letting the mixture rest for a few hours in the fridge helps bind everything together. I don’t like making them too big, I found making them them size of walnut shells perfect for us.
Leave a comment and let me know how yours turned out!
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 Tab fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 Tab fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4-6 Tab flour
- vegetable oil for frying
Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least two inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.
Place the chickpeas and onions in food processor. Add parsley, cilantro, salt, pepper flakes, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
Sprinkle in baking powder and 4 Tab flour and pulse until the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts. Heat oil in a deep pot or wok and fry one ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Fry about 6 balls at a time for a few minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Stuff Falafel in pita and add diced tomatoes and onions and sauce of your choice.
Adapted from: Epicurious