Inspired by my housemate's return from a month long stay in Israel.
He is the falafel expert.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, homemade pita bread is %100 worth the minimal effort required.
Normally falafel are fried but I wanted something a bit healthier and opted to bake them. They were just a bit dry but with tahini sauce an yogurt I didn't mind. Next time I would grind the beans a little finer to make more of a paste. In the end, baking worked fine and I don't think it would be worth the difference in oil to fry them. Adapted from Epicurious.
Makes 20 balls / Serves 4.
1 cup dried uncooked chickpeas
1 small onion, chopped in large chunks
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
lemon juice to thin
a few drops of buttermilk to smooth into a sauce
Strained yogurt (greek yogurt) or tzatziki
Whole wheat pita bread (see recipe below)
Do this the night before: Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain.
Do this the day you plan to eat it: Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands.
Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Coat a baking pan with a thin layer of olive oil.
Scoop chickpea dough into 20 walnut size balls and place on the tray. Flatten the balls slightly and bake 12 minutes. Remove tray spray a thin layer of olive oil over the balls, flip them and bake 12 minutes more or until crispy and cooked through.
For tahini sauce: mix tahini with enough lemon juice and buttermilk to thin and smooth into a sauce. Add salt and paprika to taste.
Serve stuffed inside a pita with spinach, tomato, onion, cucumber, and yogurt. Drizzle with tahini sauce.
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
This recipe originally called for only white flour but I had no trouble with this combination. In fact they were so soft and fluffy that next time I'm going to try increasing the whole wheat to white flour ratio for a total of 2 1/4 cups traditional whole wheat flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, and eliminating the white whole wheat flour all together. The pitas also freeze quite well and come back to life once toasted a bit in the oven. Adapted from The Bread Bible via Smitten Kitchen / Makes 8
1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
For best flavor development, mix the dough 8 hours to 3 days ahead of time
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed (#2 if using a KitchenAid) just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. Change to the dough hook, raise the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid), and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and be very soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.
Scrape the dough into a 2-quart (or larger) bowl, lightly greased with olive oil. Press the dough down and the top of it. Cover dough with plastic wrap and place the lid on the bowl.
Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days).
Preheat the oven to 475°F one hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet on it before preheating.
Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.
Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spray each rolled-out pita with water two or three minutes before baking it.
Proceed with the remaining dough, baking 3 or 4 pieces at a time if using a stone or baking sheet. using a pancake turner, transfer the pita breads to a clean towel, to stay soft and warm.
Serve with falafel, hommos, or this dip. The possibilities are endless, really.