FALAFEL WITH TAHINI SAUCE
Looking for good falafel in San Francisco can leave one feeling like Goldilocks. In a town with so few options to choose from, compared to a city like New York, finding real, quality falafel around here can be hit or miss. Oftentimes too dry, frequently too large and almost always too dense, my misadventures in the quest for the perfect fritter have lead me to create a recipe that produces perfectly light, moist and delicious falafel every time. In Goldilocks’ words, these are just right.
Dehydrated chickpeas are soaked overnight and ground with onions, parsley and garlic then seasoned with aromatic spices before being fried to a rich, golden brown. Top with a drizzle of garlic and lemon spiked tahini sauce and you have a version that I’d bet rivals some of the best you’ve ever bought.
I like to use a meat grinder set with the finest disk to process my garbanzo beans. If you don’t have one yourself, don’t despair, as falafel made in the food processor will be equally delicious. Whichever route you choose, make sure to season your mix well and taste it before frying — there is nothing worse than a bland falafel. Another crucial aspect of producing tender, airy falafel comes from the rolling process. No matter what you do, DO NOT press and compact the mixture into a tight ball. Instead, take some of the mixture and apply just enough pressure to have it hold its shape. It takes a bit of practice at first, but you will be rewarded with beautiful, light falafel in the end.
- 1 lb dried chick peas (garbanzo beans), soaked in water overnight
- 2 red or Spanish onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 large bunch of parsley
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- Kosher salt & cayenne pepper to taste
- Canola or vegetable oil for frying
- Drain the chick peas from their soaking liquid and pass them, along with the onion, garlic, parsley, through the finest holes of a meat grinder. Alternatively, place the same ingredients into the bowl of food processor and pulse until the texture is that of a coarse, moist meal.
- Add the cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, cayenne and salt to the ground mixture. Stir to distribute the spice and allow the mixture to rest for at least a 1/2 hour at room temperature. Taste a small amount for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. With slightly moistened hands, take walnut-sized lumps (about 2 tablespoons) of the rested falafel mixture from the bowl and gently roll into flat, round shapes, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place the falafel on the lined sheet pan and repeat with the remaining mix. Allow rolled falafel balls to rest at least another 15 minutes at room temperature before frying.
- Pour oil into a 4-qt. Dutch oven to a depth of 2″ and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350˚. Working in batches, fry the falafel until they are a dark, rich brown color, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining falafel.
- Serve the falafel warm or at room temperature along with tahini sauce for drizzling.
Makes about 2 dozen falafel
Adapted from Claudia Roden’s A Book of Middle Eastern Food
- 1-3 cloves garlic, to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Juice of 2 1/2 lemons, or more to taste
- 1/4 pint tahini paste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Crush the garlic with salt to for a paste. Mix it with a little of the lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the tahini paste and mix well.
- Add the remaining lemon juice and enough cold water to achieve a thick, smooth cream, beating vigorously.
- Season with salt and cumin; taste and add more lemon juice, garlic or salt until the flavor is fairly strong and tart. Add a few more drops water if too thick. It should be just pourable.