falafel – smitten kitchen

Until recently, if you’d asked me if I ever wanted to make falafel at home, I’d have said “sure, one day” but what I meant was “nah, why bother?” I was certain that falafel was fussy to make and had a long ingredient list. It probably related in some way to a fritter, meaning that it was bound with eggs and flour, and probably had breading on it too, all pesky steps and this is even before you get to the peskiest of all: deep-frying them. I figured that it’s one of these things that there as many recipes for as there are people who make it, thus whatever I came up with would be wrong by default – too firm or too soft, with chickpeas instead of favas or vice-versa — no matter what. But this isn’t the whole truth. The fact is that below 14th Street, there are two locations each of Taim and Mamoun’s every time I even distantly considered whether I needed a homemade falafel recipe in my life, I knew I could get a perfectly executed sandwich in my hands before I even wrote out a grocery list.

soaked chickpeas and everything else
onion, garlic, herbs, spices, salt
the right texture

Hey, I’m not proud of this. I pride myself on being a curious person in the realm of cooking so it’s pretty pathetic that I had falafel all worked up in my head as this highly complex thing and never once, you know, read a few recipes. Had I, I’d have learned many extremely cool things about falafel such as the fact that while you do need to start with dried chickpeas (come back!), you don’t even have to cook them, or not in the classic long-simmered way, to make it. You soak them overnight in cold water, grind them up with seasonings and herbs, pack them into spoonfuls, fry them in less than an inch of oil in merely a few minutes, and that is it. There’s no egg. There’s no breading. It’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, it’s dirt cheap, and it’s easy, I mean criminally easy, to make. And I had to do it immediately.

a scooper makes an easy shape
ball it up
frying goes fast

In real life, however, I waited until the first night of Hanukah for two reasons, one, fried food is basically the only rule of the holiday, and two, a family member has recently gone vegan and I weirdly love the challenge of trying new menus (obviously, the meal ended with this cake). Making falafel for 10 people was so easy, I had spare time to kill and so I decided to make pita bread too. Okay, I’m a little nuts but the fact is that 90% of storebought pita is dry and terrible and even the worst homemade pita, the couple that refuse to puff or puff erratically, as you see here, is still delicious.



One year ago: Dutch Apple Pie
Two years ago: Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts, Homemade Irish Cream,
Three years ago: Pull-Apart Rugelach and Tres Leches Cake + A Taco Party
Four years ago: Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix and Gingerbread Biscotti
Five years ago: Sugared Pretzel Cookies and Eggnog Florentines
Six years ago: Cashew Butter Balls
Seven years ago: Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs
Eight years ago: Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Nine years ago: Cream Biscuits, Coffee Toffee and Vanilla Roasted Pears
Ten years ago: Feta Salsa and Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake
Eleven years ago: Tiramisu Cake, Rugelach Pinwheels and Chicken and Dumplings
Twelve years ago: Blondies, Infinitely Adaptable, German Pancakes, and Winter Panzanella

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Linguine and Clams
1.5 Years Ago: Grilled Pepper and Torn Mozarella Panzanella and Crispy Spiced Lamb and Lentils
2.5 Years Ago: The Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookie, Revisited, Charred Eggplant and Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, and Strawberry Milk
3.5 Years Ago: Crispy Frizzled Artichokes and Saltine Crack Ice Cream Sandwiches
4.5 Years Ago: Coconut Brown Butter Cookies and Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad

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