Originating in Egypt, the fabulous falafel has been claimed by many countries, including India, and to my surprise Israel, where it is considered a national dish. The name is either Arabic or Sanskrit, depending on which strain of history you wish to follow; to me it is the quintessential Arabic dish, so I am going to hand it to Afghanistan via Iran for this book.
We all know them in some form or another, mostly green inside and very tasty! Falafels have always been a go-to vegetarian protein, ensuring that after a night on the town a vegetarian can go to a kebab store with their carnivorous friends to get a vegie shawarma.
I have been looking for a falafel recipe to call my own; I have tasted a few beauties, but no one has shared their recipe. This one comes from Sri Lanka via Doha, the capital of Qatar! Many Sri Lankan chefs work overseas, especially in the Middle East and Maldives, and I tried this version while consulting on some menus for a resort in the south of Sri Lanka. I managed to get this recipe by swapping it for one of my own. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight.
Next day, drain the chickpeas and place in a bowl blender with the parsley and garlic. Blend the mixture until well chopped.
Add the cumin and baking powder, season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and blend again until thoroughly combined.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Roll the mixture into balls, about the size of golf balls.
Heat about 10 cm (4 inches) of vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the falafels in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan, and cook for 5–7 minutes, turning halfway through, until the falafels are a lovely golden colour and cooked all the way through.
The falafels are much tastier while they are hot, but you can refrigerate any leftovers and simply warm them back up for serving, by gently pressing them in a hot pan or microwaving for 20 seconds.
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