I didn't even know what falafel was till I hung out with vegetarians. I was not impressed at all. It sounded like a shoddy second place, suspiciously loaded with fillers like flour and eggs and gosh knows what--why not just call them "bread sandwiches" and have done with it? Then I married a lifelong vegetarian (who had tried falafel and said yup, that's exactly what he thought, "bread sandwiches"). I like him and I like food, so I began subscribing to veg sites and magazines so I could find more stuff we could eat together. I just scored a big bag of organic dried chickpeas, so I remembered this recipe out of a vegetarian magazine. I tried it and let's just say I am a convert. Crispy and light on the outside, creamy and smooth on the inside, these are beyond stunning and so subtly-flavored and pleasingly-textured! This stuff is *good*. Nobody'd ever mistake it for the runner-up.
1 cup dried chickpeas, sorted, rinsed
1/2 tsp and another 1/3 tsp baking soda
1 small leek, cut in a few pieces, white and green parts (left out as we've got an onion allergy in the family)
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tb lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin (I barely used any as I dislike cumin)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3-4 drops hot sauce
2 cups canola oil
(Vegetarian Times, Sept 2012, p. 50)
1. Soak chickpeas in 3-4 cups water to cover, with 1/2 tsp baking soda, for 24 hours. Drain.
2. Put the chickpeas with remaining ingredients except oil in food processor and process till mixture is chunky, about 1 minute. Adjust seasoning. (I added a little olive oil here because it seemed like it wanted it, maybe because I'd left out the leek.)
3. Shape 1 tb of mixture at a time into compact balls and put on a plate.
4. Heat the canola oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the balls, enough not to be crowded, and cook until browned on bottoms, a couple of minutes. Turn and brown other side and transfer to paper-towel-lined plate to drain the oil. Eat hot/warm. (I shaped my balls into larger patties and used way less canola oil as I wasn't putting the falafel into salads or sandwiches.)
I don't have yogurt sauce or pita bread on hand, so these were served as patties with mashed potatoes and a simple side salad. They were quick to make, aside from the soaking time--they came together really fast and were done cooking before the potatoes were even done. They also sat well and tasted good long after cooking, so I think they'd also be good for potlucks and holiday dinners. They held their crispness even after refrigeration to the next day, when I crumbled them into fried rice with eggs (wow that was good, though my husband wasn't as wild about it). So they have definitely made it into my regular rotation.
Caution: these go from "not quite browned" to "oops they're burned" in lightning time. Don't put them on to fry and expect things will be fine if you get bored and wander off.
Disclaimer: I'm not a vegetarian, just really veg-friendly, hence the title of the post. Also edited to remove a potentially omnivore-privileged comment. Hope that makes things better..?