Falafel – Crispy, Fluffy… Delicious!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your celebrations were fun-filled and entertaining. I had a delicious meal, ate too much lemon cheesecake, topped it all off with way too many chips and then we set off a few fireworks, which I had wanted to capture, but fireworks are finicky beasts – especially when you’re trying to photograph them from relatively close range, as opposed to from, say, the other side of a field or harbour or the like.

In the end, I ended up with the below picture. Hardly a great start in the field of firework photography but… a start nevertheless. I’ll try to be a bit more prepared next time, although it didn’t help that it was snowing at the time and I had to hide under a porch roof to prevent my lens from getting covered in snow. Nevertheless, it was a memorable evening, and I’ve now determined that I must be the only person who actually loves the smell of smoke from fireworks, at least judging by the amount of spluttering going on around me at the time!

Fireworks

Something which was marginally more successfully than my fireworks photos was my construction of my first ever “snölykta”, or “snow lantern”. Roll a load of snowballs, arrange them in a circle and build them up to a point, like a little igloo. Place a tea-light in the middle and light it up and you’ll have yourself a lovely little glowing lantern on the floor. Build several around the yard for best effects. It was my first time making one and it wasn’t a perfect job, but candlelight hides a multitude of sins so by the time I lit the candle I was feeling pretty pleased with myself!

Snölykta

Before I start talking about the food I thought I’d let you all know that I’m going back to school – of sorts! From next Tuesday I’ll be undertaking SFI. It’s pretty much a full-time course, to bring my Swedish up to a good standard. I’m not sure how long it will take… basically I’m “done when I’m done” but a rough estimate from one of my teachers was that it could take three to five months – sometimes less, sometimes more. It’s quite exciting! It’s a long time since I’ve been to “school”, but I always loved languages in school (indeed, I learned five foreign languages in school to various degrees of accomplishment, though aside from French I’ve pretty much forgotten all of them now). My level of Swedish isn’t entirely terrible right now, so hopefully it won’t take too long. As my wife will also be studying at the same time (obviously not SFI), juggling schedules to ensure someone is home to look after William can be difficult so hopefully we’ll be able to find a good solution.

Suffice to say my already not-really-regular posting schedule will continue on its sporadic way for a while longer since I’ll only really be able to post on weekends but I’ll still be here!

Falafel

On to the food:

Falafel… ah!

I can safely say that these are the best falafel I’ve ever made, but then I’ve only ever made them twice and the first time I tried my beautifully crafted falafel disintegrated as soon as they hit the hot oil.

After reading A_Boleyn’s post here about her falafel adventures I immediately began craving one such sandwich myself – specifically one that they used to serve in a restaurant in the Marais district of Paris. Falafel restaurants in this area are not uncommon… serving up crisp, fluffy, fragrant falafel in a pita with shredded cabbage, onion, tomato and sauce – but I stumbled upon a place once which had a “secret weapon”.

Aubergine wouldn’t normally be classed as a secret weapon, but seriously – a few good slices of grilled aubergine nestling underneath the crisp falafel will kick your sandwich up a notch from “delicious” to “out of this world”. I forget the name of the place now – it was some years since I went there – but I remember it being just around the corner from another, probably aubergine-less, falafel place called “L’As du Falafel” which apparently is a favourite stop-off for Lenny Kravitz whenever he’s in Paris.

Falafel

This time I decided to follow A_Boleyn’s advice of letting the mixture rest for an hour and I was rewarded with perfectly done falafel. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside – just the way they should be. I’m notoriously terrible at following recipes and I often tend to “go my own way”, but I used A_Boleyn’s original post as a guide for flavours (I hadn’t thought of adding cayenne pepper before – it adds a beautiful background warmth and the fragrant coriander and cumin come through beautifully). I hope you’ll enjoy this easy falafel recipe. Serve it with some good slices of grilled aubergine and of course some of these:

Homemade Pita Bread

Pita Bread

…and of course some of this:

Hummus

Hummus

Falafel
Serves 4
An easy falafel recipe which yields crisp falafel with touches of warming coriander, cumin, and a hint of cayenne pepper.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
Ingredients
  1. 700g canned, cooked Chickpeas, drained
  2. 1 Onion
  3. 1 large bunch of Flat-leaf Parsley
  4. 1 large handful of fresh Coriander (Cilantro)
  5. 1 Egg
  6. 3tbsps Plain Flour
  7. 4tsps ground Coriander
  8. 2tsps ground Cumin
  9. 2tsps Salt
  10. 2tsps freshly ground Black Pepper
  11. 1tsp Cayenne Pepper
Instructions
  1. Start off by blitzing your chickpeas in a food processor until crumbly and no whole chickpeas remain. Remember not to process them for too long as otherwise you'll end up with a paste.
  2. Transfer the chickpeas to a bowl and then peel the onion and cut it into halves. Place into the food processor along with the parsley and fresh coriander (cilantro) and pulse again until completely blended up.
  3. Add the herbs into the chickpeas along with the flour, salt, pepper, ground coriander and cumin, and cayenne pepper and finally crack in the egg and mix everything together well.
  4. Allow the mixture to rest for about one hour and then place about 400ml of Canola or Sunflower oil into a pan and heat it up on the stove.
  5. While the oil is heating, start forming small patties from the mixture. Form balls first in your hand and press them together well, before flattening slightly. You should be able to make about 20 falafel in total.
  6. When the oil is nice and hot - about 160 degrees Celsius - fry the falafel in small batches, flipping them over after a couple of minutes. Once they are nicely browned all over remove and drain on kitchen paper while you fry the next batch.
  7. Serve in pita bread with shredded cabbage, onion, hummus and maybe feta cheese.
You'll also need
  1. ~400ml Canola/Sunflower oil for frying
Serving Suggestion
  1. Serve with warmed pita breads, shredded cabbage, grilled aubergine slices, sliced onion and tomato, hummus, feta cheese, and tzatziki
Five Euro Food http://www.fiveeurofood.com/

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    I want to eat one or three of your falafels in those home made pita breads. You really took the recipe to another level with those. Even though I’m a bit leery of the grilled eggplant in my sandwich, I might try a bit or two. :) I’m surprised that using canned chickpeas gave you good results as the various blogs I’ve read claims the ground cooked chickpeas might be too mushy.

    • says

      Yeah, I’ve heard that about canned chickpeas. People claim cooking them yourself always yields better results. Perhaps it’s true, but I’m a lazy bugger and I’ve never cooked chickpeas before (other beans, but not these) so I like to go for “fast solutions”. Figured it was worth a try and they turned out fantastically. Loved the background hint of cayenne pepper… that was just amazing!

  2. says

    I sooooo miss those! This is exactly the version I love. I want that sandwich right now!

    I’m not fan of the Egyptian version which includes the dried fava beans but I usually use chick peas I soak myself (my Syrian and Lebanese friends told me to do so)..A-Boylen is right about forgetting them for at least 1 hour…

    I seriously regret not having bought the falafel press/plunger when I was in the Middle East..it was so cheap :(

    • says

      Haha, yeah, this sandwich has this annoying habit of sticking in your head and makes you crave it. I’m pleased I finally got around to making it… but now I’m on this page I want one again and there’s none left in the house at all, lol!

  3. says

    I made Falafel a couple of years ago and the first time I was disappointed too, texturally and flavour-wise it just didn’t do it for me so it’s refreshing and encouraging to see your version of Maria’s recipe and that her suggestion to let it sit an hour worked out very well; it sounds like a perfect lunch!
    Good luck with your Swedish studies Charles, I’m sure you will do very well. I wish you all the best for 2014!

    • says

      It’s too bad you were disappointed… how did they turn out which made them bad? I’ve always thought falafel AND hummus together is a bit of a weird combo… like chickpea overload but in practice it’s just plain amazing!

      As for the Swedish studies – thanks for your well wishes. I started on Tuesday and one of my teachers told me on Thursday that I will need to stop soon because I’m “too good”. Basically, my level of Swedish will soon surpass (or perhaps already has) the level they aim to get you to, so soon I’ll need to find another learning program to take me even further.

  4. says

    That snow lantern is lovely-a yard full of them would be breathtaking! I think this is the first time I am hearing bout a “snow lantern” – simply gorgeous!
    There must be something in the air, but I have been craving falafel too, now that I have your adaptation of A-Boylyn’ recipe, I wont need to raid the health section at the grocery store anymore. Thanks so much for sharing

  5. Clare says

    That snow lantern thing looks so beautiful! Jiajia keeps asking me when It’s going to snow here whenever I show her your Sweden pics!
    I’m definitely going to try making this recipe. Just so happens I was planning on making falafel this week to clear out a load of dried chickpeas I had lurking in the cupboard.

  6. says

    Happy New Year to you all. I think going back to school is exciting. I’ve done university with children and it’s not easy but you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment when it’s all done.

    I too want the falafel sandwich! I just haven’t taken the time to do it yet. I’m going to!

    • says

      Thanks Maureen – I dashed home after a lesson on Thursday to pick up my son and take my wife to her class and then decided to go to a café with William for some coffee (for me, not for him, lol). Problem? Yeah – the café closes at 4pm, grr! Not ideal, but such is life!

  7. says

    Hi Charles, Happy New Year! You have made me crave falafel now too! Not really something you see EVER here in Gascony and I have only made them once and they turned out dry. I love the idea of the aubergine which undoubtedly adds softness and moisture too. I must make these…perfect food for healthy January xx

    • says

      Yeah, what’s the deal with falafel? I don’t think any other food has this draw over me. As soon as I start thinking about the things I turn into this babbling drool-monster, lol!

  8. Lena says

    Hi Charles!

    Nice getting some news and even though – as you know – i so totally hate snow, I have to admit, the snow latern is beautiful.

    2 weeks ago I had been at the Falafel Shop you mentioned; the Lenny Kravitz most favorite was closed, so my sister and me had one at Chez Hanna; WITH Aubergine :) I am not too fond of grilled Aubergine but my sister liked it a lot.

    then: now I want falafel as well and I think I will cook your receipe soonish :)

    and RPS is not the same without you.

    Say hi to Laila and William :)

    Lena

    • says

      Hi Lena! I think snow is lovely, as long as you can stay inside and “look” at it, or occasionally take a walk. When you have to drive in it and you feel like your car is sliding all over the place it’s just annoying and dangerous. Not fun!

      It’s great that you’ve experienced the aubergine sandwich… I wonder if that was *the* place I was thinking of. Were other places serving aubergine? Perhaps they’ve realised now that it’s a real good idea so everyone does it!

      I miss all you guys… I think about you all sitting in the office. I can picture it perfectly in my head. Even my old desk. Good times, good times… was so hard to leave but times have to change! Hope we’ll meet again some day!

  9. says

    I love the snow lantern! I’m going to have to remember this for the next time it snows here, if ever again. :) I love a great falafel and yours do look delicious! Such a healthy and tasty treat! Good luck on your Swedish class Charles.

  10. says

    I love the smell of fireworks….and jet fuel, rubber tires and athletic shops, don’t judge me.
    I also love falafels and like you have made them twice. One was quite unsuccessful but second attempt was much better. I haven’t had any for awhile and of course, am craving them now.
    Love your snow lantern, so cool. Imma try that, we still have snow in the garden.

    • says

      Oh God yeah… I’d roll down my window when my father was filling the car with gas and inhale deeply. Fantastic smell… not quite good for you though, lol!

      Let me know how your snow lantern turns out. If it’s really cold outside you might find a tea-light isn’t the best. It will burn in the centre, but the wax on the outside won’t melt because it’s too cold so it will go out quickly. You can get special “outdoor” candles here… not sure about there… but they work much better!

  11. says

    Looks like a lovely start to the New Year! :-D
    This sounds like something I would love to try if I have the chance…I am just so undomestic, LOL! ;-)

  12. says

    Charles, you’ve brought back many memories with this one. It’s been ages since I’ve made falafel. And you’ve done it in a way I really like – in a pita. That’s where falafel belongs. Not on a pizza – my husband still remembers when people were doing all sorts of strange things with falafel, including when our little hippie-dippie friend served us a really awful falafel pizza!

    • says

      Goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of falafel being served on a pizza before. I guess I wouldn’t mind *trying* it, but nah, in my opinion it definitely belongs in a pita, or at the very least on a bed of salad!

  13. says

    I know what you mean; I often go rogue on recipe instructions too — I’ll have a quick look and then do my own thing but sometimes it really pays off to follow :) — I LOVE falafels Charles and I could eat these delights with your soft pita and creamy hummus all day long. A gorgeous, light meal and very cool that this was a successful batch. Your snow lantern is making me smile and feel homesick all at once… serious deep freeze back at home – not fun yet I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic.

    • says

      Hi Kelly! I agree… it’s important to follow recipes sometimes. I think with a lot of “unknown” dishes it’s critical to follow the recipe so you actually know what the hell you’re supposed to end up with, and then – sure – play around all you want. I get a little irked with “serial fiddlers” who seem completely incapable of following any recipe at all. Even if I’m a bit like this I like to think I follow the ones that count!

      For the first time in weeks it’s getting cold now. -16 or so right now… at least it feels like winter but it’s chilly, that’s for sure. I opened my car door today and then I couldn’t make it shut again; rather, I mean – I could “close” the door, but it wouldn’t click shut. Finally after driving around holding it closed it warmed up a bit and shut properly :p.

  14. says

    First of all, Happy New Year to you and your lovely family! How are you surviving your first winter there? :) The snow lantern looks SO beautiful! I’ve never seen anything like that.

    And my goodness, how delicious these falafels look, Charles!! I can eat three sandwiches easily!

    Good luck in school! The thought of going to school is scary. I don’t think my brain works anymore, especially after having kids. xD Enjoy!!

    • says

      Hi Nami. I feel a bit spoiled… the winter has not been bad so far. Finally now we’re getting “cold” temperatures. -16 degrees C right now… quite a bit less with wind-chill, and it’s going to continue at least for a few days according to the weather forecast.

      The snow lantern is quite a Swedish thing apparently… it’s super pretty, especially if you make loads of them all around.

  15. says

    I like your snow lantern so much… haven’t heard of it before!! I’ll make sure to try making one with the kiddos next time it snows here.
    Your falafel looks great …it is the Lebanese version. I usually make them the Egyptian way.
    In Egypt there is a sandwich where you put falafel, eggplants, boiled eggs, fries, pickles and also some greens, onions and sliced tomatoes they call it many names among which is “rocket” hahaha .. many people say when you eat that rocket sandwich you won’t be needing any food until the NEXT DAY … if you survived :) I didn’t try it before and will not dare to…

  16. says

    It seems like years since I’ve paid you a visit. I love your profile picture with your son on your shoulders…he’s darling! Can you believe I’ve never had falafel? My first taste of hummus was only a few years back…and now I make it at least twice a month. I think I better give your falafel a shot…I have a feeling I’ll love it.

  17. says

    Another one that is making me drool! Look at those pitas and that hummus!!!! I’ve never been crazy about falafel, but Mike LOVES it. Mr. N too. We should try making these at home. It would fit with our cooking around the world and would be fun for the kids. Also fun for the kids (and me), your snow lantern! That is the coolest thing ever!!!! I’ve never seen one of those and now I have to make one. I love it. :)

    • says

      Oh my, what’s NOT to love about falafel… they’re just… oh my God. Damn, I’m even making myself hungry again thinking about them now, lol!

      Hope you can make a snow lantern! Has your snow melted away? Make a few of them and place them around the yard. I’m sure Mr N and Miss A could do a significantly better job at making “neat” snowballs. Mine was a bit of a ham-fisted effort, haha.

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