When I lived in New York City, at least once every week I would eat at a cheap, hole-in-the-wall joint in Greenwich Village called Mamoun’s Falafel. The overstuffed falafel sandwiches were just 75 cents apiece. I recently revisited Mamoun’s and although the prices have gone up a tad, the falafel is still the best I’ve ever tasted. Here is a falafel recipe to make falafel from scratch at home that I think is almost as good as Mamoun’s.
- 1/2 lb. dried chickpeas
- 2 oz. fresh cilantro, parsley, mint leaves, or a mixture of all three
- 6 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 tsp. ground cumin (I like more cumin in my falafel)
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- Oil for frying
- Rinse the chickpeas and put them in a large bowl or pot. Cover with cold water (leaving enough room for the peas to triple in volume) and let stand overnight at room temperature. When you’re ready to cook, drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas (a salad spinner works well for this).
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chickpeas, herbs, scallions, garlic, cumin, coriander and salt. Pulse in the chickpeas until finely minced. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, as necessary. A handful of the mixture formed into a ball should just barely hold together. If not, process some more.
- Transfer the falafel mixture into a bowl, cover, and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out a heaping spoonful of the falafel mixture and gently shape by hand into a ball. Place on a clean plate and repeat with the remaining falafel mix. You should end up with 16-18 falafel balls.
- Fry the falafel balls, without crowding, in a Dutch oven, cast iron skillet, or deep-fryer for about 3 to 4 minutes, keeping the temperature between 350 and 375 degrees F. Transfer the cooked falafel balls to a paper towel-lined plate or a paper shopping bag to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt.
You can serve the falafel with pita or just by themselves. I like to top the falafel with tahini and hot sauce, preferably Sambal Oelek.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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