Saturday, 22 November 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Falafel with Yogurt Sauce

This week in My Kitchen, My World we travel to Iran. I decided to make falafel as it is one of our favourites and I had always wanted to make them from scratch. Mark Bittman has them listed only as Middle Eastern, so I hope that they are popular in Iran!

When I first started frying mine they came apart. I was about to curse Mr. Bittman but decided to top up the oil first. That made all the difference. Make sure you have enough oil to cover, they go in gently like dumplings and need to seal all over. The rest came out round and perfect.
Since we had been pigging on the Parker House Rolls from yesterday's post, I decided to serve the falafel on a bed of veggies. I put a layer of mixed greens, topped with cucumber, green onions, and julienned carrots on a platter. I edged the platter in fresh tomato wedges and topped it with the falafel patties, yogurt sauce and pomegranate seeds. This would also be nice tucked into a pita or other flatbread.
It was very good, you get the good, healthy feeling from the flavourful vegetarian dinner, with a hint of badness from the deep frying. The best of both worlds!

Falafel - Middle East - Mark Bittman, The Greatest Recipes in the World, pages 42,43.

1 3/4 cups dried chick peas (do not use canned - they are too soft)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 scant teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg
neutral vegetable oil for deep frying

1. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches. Soak for 24 hours, checking once or twice to see if you need to add more water to keep the beans submerged- they will triple in volume as they soak.

2. Drain the beans well and transfer them to a food processor with all the remaining ingredients except the oil; pulse until finely minced but not pureed, scraping the sides of the bowl down as necessary; add water a tablespoon at a time if necessary to allow the machine to do its work. (I didn't need any water) Taste and make sure the mixture is seasoned adequately; add more of any seasoning you like.

3. Put at least 2 inches (more is better) of oil in a large, deep saucepan (or use a deep fryer if you have one). Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil to about 350f.

4. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture and shape them into balls of small patties. Fry in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary; total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yogurt Sauce, Laban, Arabic. Rosi Dosti, Middle Eastern Cooking, page 64.
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup plain yogurt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Refrigerate to chill. Makes 1 cup.