Recipe ©copyright Julie Le Clerc, from Taking Tea in the Medina cookbook (Penguin Books NZ)
Eaten as a snack food or sandwiched into pockets of pita bread, falafel make a sustaining meal. In Lebanon, falafel are commonly made with chickpeas, or a mixture of chickpeas and broad beans. Large skinned dried and split broad beans are the authentic ones to use but can be hard to find outside the Middle East, so here I’ve given a recipe using only chickpeas, as these are more commonly available.
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each ground coriander and cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 litre sunflower or light olive oil for frying
Drain chickpeas and discard soaking liquid. Place chickpeas in a large saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down heat, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour or until very tender. Drain well and cool.
At the same time, heat a saucepan, add oil and onion and cook onion over a medium heat for 5 minutes to soften but not colour. Add garlic and spices and fry for 1 minute longer. Remove to cool.
Grind drained chickpeas in a food processor to resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add cooled onion mixture and remaining ingredients and process to form a smooth and soft paste that will hold together into balls. If necessary, it is possible to add an egg or 2 tablespoons of flour to bind the mixture. Set mixture aside to rest for 30 minutes.
With slightly damp hands, mould the mixture into ovals, round balls or flat patties, as preferred.
Heat oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Test the temperature of the oil for frying by dropping in a crust of bread – it should bubble, rise to the surface and turn golden brown. Fry the falafel in batches until golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.