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Ridiculously Easy, Fool-Proof & No Fall-Apart Falafel Balls

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بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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Most people out there have this thing where they forego eating meat every Monday, they call it "Meatless Monday". I thought it was started by Paul McCarthy in 2009, but according to Wiki the United States government actually started a few campaigns during World War II to encourage rationing.
"Meatless Monday focuses its initiative on Mondays for multiple reasons. Friday is traditionally already a meat-free day among Catholics and Orthodox. Monday is typically the beginning of the work week, the day when individuals settle back into their weekly routine. Unhealthy habits that prevailed over the weekend can be forgotten and replaced by positive choices. A weekly reminder to restart healthy habits also encourages success."
Time and time again, I keep coming back to the fact that these game changing ideas that people come up with aren't that radical or new at all. The food served in Prophet Mohamed (عليه السلام)'s household was of modest quality, meaning they used to eat a basic diet and meat wasn't the center. Meat wasn't a neccessity in the old days. Most people if, they were wealthy ate meat once a week, usually on Friday and if they were poor only on the two Eids. People faced poverty, as many do now yet weren't focused too much on keeping up with the Joneses. They were happy to feast, yes I said feast on bread, water and dates. 

Nowadays, we have all kinds of diets and regimes telling us how to eat: vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, , pescetarian, vegans, low fat, low carb, primal, paleo, gluen-free, raw, eat-clean, and even something so ridiculous like the Breatharian diet. I don't want to go into backbiting or into the politics of it all, but IMHO Islam, the Mohamed (عليه السلام) and the early Muslims give us a clear view of how we should ideally manage our lives, including our health and diets.

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Using a flashy modern term, the Prophet Mohamed (عليه السلام) and the early Muslims were flexitarians or  semi-vegetarians meaning they mainly ate a plant-based diet but enjoyed the occasional inclusion of premissible halal meat products. They ate whole grains. It is understood from some hadiths that the family ate whole-wheat bread. They did not have any sieves and they were only able to partially clean the chaff by blowing at the flour.  The Prophet Mohamed (عليه السلام) and his wives didn't have slaves, servants, maids or personal chefs. And they certainly didn't have a McDo drive-thru to pass through. They cooked the meals themselves - all from scratch using local and in-season ingredients.

Now coming to the recipe I'm sharing today. It's not something new I've shared it several times over around the Web here, here, here and even here. It's a delicious non-meat vegetable based protein that may very well have been eaten at the time of the Prophet Mohamed (عليه السلام).

Falafels are crispy deep fried chickpea patties. They're sometimes called the "Hot Dog of the Middle East". It's the ubiquitous street food of the Middle East that's meat-free. Amazing huh? A Middle Eastern dish that is meat-free. Well not so amazing considering there are hundreds of delicious meat-free dishes from the region. Falafels, unlike hot dogs, are very nutritious and include both high-quality vegetable based protein and vegetables. 


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The origin of falafel is unknown and controversial. A common theory is that the dish originated in Egypt during the Pharaonic Period possibly eaten by the slaves. It's knownn as ta’amiya in Egypt. Copts as a replacement for meat during Lent. The original from Egypt were made of fava beans, but as the recipe migrated north to the Levant the recipe changed to use chickpeas or a mix of fava beans and chickpeas. Now in modern times, falafel has become a staple for vegetarians and a meat replacement for street foods. Posh falafeleries (yeah! I made that word up LOL) cram new sandwich fillings like jalapeños, pickled Lebanese cucumber, shredded beets and french fries into each falafel sandwich.

Falafel is so delicious and popular it has become the "national snack" of Israel, heated culinary and political debates have arose and even June 12th is National Falafel Day in the United States.

While falafel is a street, they're quite nice to eat at home. A treat which I think is prefect for any meal of the day: breakfast, lunch or dinner. And is really easier then most people think it is, or are lead to believe. But making them at home can be challenging when many times you will end up with falafel that will just fall apart as soon as it hits the hot oil. The traditional preparation falafel takes hours of soaking then cooking. That's just more time and effort then I am willing to make espscially after all that work they burst apart into a fluffy mass of crunchy falalness. As usual, when it comes to a (culinary) challenge I look around for any and all recipes to try. Head to the kitchen and do several trails until I find one method that works. But with falafel, I found none. So I keep at it. After several months, still with no result I gave up. Then it dawned on me, thinking back to when I lived in the US at all the instant falafel mixes I used and how well they worked. So again, I headed straight into the kitchen to device my own mix.
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What I came up with is a super-easy recipe that will yield you delicious fragant no-fall-apart falafel balls every time. The trick here that I opted for chickpea flour instead of ground chickpeas. And as for the procedure, all you do is throw all the ingredients together in a bowl or quicker yet a food processor! Another optional trick here is to use chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian and vegans) instead of water to give these balls even more BAM! I use the juice of one small onion since we don't have onion powder here and well it's just better to use real food ingredients instead of processed ones. 

And as for the procedure, all you do is throw all the ingredients together in a bowl or quicker yet a food processor! Simply mix until you have a paste-like consistency but it does not need to be perfectly smooth. A few rough bits are completely fine. If the mixture is too wet, the falafel has a tendency to fall apart when being fried so please pat dry the ingredients before using them. If you find the mixture is too wet, simply add little more breadcrumbs.

The falafel mixture after prepared can be shaped by hand or with a tool called an alb falafel (falafel mold). You can have your kids roll them into balls or patties. Anytime there's rolling or any dough work my kids come running. Falafel can be deep fried, light pan fried in olive oil or baked in the oven. Falafels are fabulous tucked inside fluffy pita with lettuce, tomato and a creamy garlic sauce. I just know it. Otherwise, they’re fantastic on their own with just a spot of hummus. Falafels are usually served accompanied by a tomato -cucumber salad called a Jerusalem salad or a sumac onion relish, tahini and fresh taboun bread.

Additional note on chickpea flour it is great no gluten alternative to wheat flour. It is packed with minerals and vitamins. It was widely used in the Roman times up into the Middle Ages when wheat flour  was extremely expensive. Many cuisines are still using ... for example in India where it is referred to as chana dal or besan flour and in France where it is calles sattu.

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My son Youcef loves Falafel, in fact it's one of my children's favourites. But he will only eat it with ketchup - go figure!

Let's get this ball rolling ... 

RIDICULOUSLY EASY, FOOL PROOF NO FALL APART FALAFEL BALLS }
EASY TO FOLLOW NO-FAIL AND NO FALL APART RECIPE FOR NON-MEAT PROTEIN PACKED CHICKPEA BALLS THAT IS SURE TO HAPPY YOUR VEGGIE AND MEAT EATERS ALIKE.

YIELD: 24 balls 
ACTIVE PREP TIME: 5-10 mins
INACTIVE PREP TIME: 0 mins
COOK TIME: 15-35mins (depending on method)


MIXING BOWL & SPOON OR FOOD PROCESSOR, SPOON OR FALAFEL MOLD, BAKING SHEET OR FRY PAN 

۞ = SUBSTITUTIONS



  • 2 cups - 184g chickpea flour ۞
  • 4  TBS fine breadcrumbs ۞
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • ¾ cup - 175ml boiling chicken broth OR vegetable broth OR water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder (one packet in Algeria)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 2 garlic cloves minced OR ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 TBS Za'atar spice mix ۞
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • generous handful of sesame seeds
  • about 1 TBS - juice of one small grated onion OR ½ tsp onion powder
  •  1 cup - 25g of fresh cilantro and parsely, roughly chopped 
  • cayenne pepper or Harissa (optional)
  • pinch of turmeric
  • few turns of the black pepper grinder
    • oil for frying or little for the baking dish
    • sesame seeds for rolling in

MAKE THE FALAFEL MIXTURE
PLACE all the dry ingredients in a large bowl or food processor. Add the remaining wet ingredients. Mix well. If too dry, add one tablespoon of broth or water. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare either the oil for deep frying or the baking pan for baking.

OIL your hands, then form walnut size balls form the dough. If using a falafel tool, lightly oil the tool's inside, press the dough inside, then push them onto a platter.

ROLL in the sesame seeds, if desired. I prefer the nutty crunch they give the falafel. { Note: for pan fried or baked falafel, you need to make them into patties, not balls)

TO DEEP FRY
PLACE neutral oil in your frying pan, about a few inches. Allow to heat up to a medium heat. Once the oil is hot enough, pop the balls in the oil. Fry for about 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen towel lined plate.

TO PAN FRY
HEAT a frying pan with a few tablespoons of light olive oil. Gently place the falafel patties in the pan. Fry on each side, until golden.

TO BAKE
GENTLY oil a baking sheet with light olive oil. Place the falafel patties on the sheet pan - evenly spaced from each other. Brush lightly with the light to obtain a cripsy outside. Bake in 180°C - 350°f for about 10 pinutes then turn over to the other side. Continue to bake for an additional 5    -8 minutes until golden brown and crispy.


Serve the falafels with a simple arabic salad, Jerusalem salad, sumac onion relish, tahini sauce and freshly baked taboun or pita bread.



Ingredient Info
Chickpea flour is also known as besan flour, garbanzo flour, hummous garantita, chana dal or farine pois chiche. 
If you can not find chickpea flour, you can simply make your own by toasting dried chickpeas in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until they are golden brown, then grind like flour in coffee grinder, robo or a flour mill. To make the untoasted one, just grind dried chickpeas. Do not use boiled chickpeas, or canned ones. 

Time Wise
Put all the dry ingredients in a jar. Anytime you want to make falafel, just add the wet ingredients, fresh lemon juice and minced parsely and mix well. 

Subsitute
Subsitute brown lentil flour or fava bean flour instead of chickpea flour. And to make this recipe vegan use vegetable broth or water. 
No zaa'tar? You can make your own spice mix or use dried thyme.

Variation
For extra healthy optional what I like to add is flaxseeds or spinach. Both are so rich in vitamins such Omega 3 fatty acids that I try to get them in out diet anyway possible!  I just fold in a generous handful of flaxseeds. They give a nice nutty and slight crunch to the Falafel. And/or half packed cleaned and chopped spinach leaves.

GLUTEN FREE
To make these balls gluten and grain free, sub 4 TBS of breadcrumbs for Gluten-Free certified oatflour OR optionally equal amount of your favorite gluten-free or grain-free bread.

FREEZING FOR LATER
After cooking the falafel, allow them to cool then place on a baking sheet and freeze for one hour. Once frozen, place in freezer bags in a single layer to prevent them from sticking.

To use, thaw out on the counter for 1-2 hours then gently heat up in the oven for 10-20 minutes in a 180°C - 350°F oven, turning halfway. 

    CATEGORIES: VEGAN, VEGETARIAN, SNACK, SANDWICH, MIDDLE EASTERN, MEDITERRANEAN,HEALTHY, GLUTEN-FREE, QUICK AND EASY, LUNCHBOX, PICNIC

    SOURCE: MY LATE MOTHER -N- LAW

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      8 comments:

      1. WOW! I never expected your trick to be chickpea flour! This is great because I can try making them with no prep! I wanted to make felafel a couple of weeks ago when I made mutabbel, hummous etc but I forgot to soak the chickpeas. This is fantastic so I'll definitely give it a try insha'Allah!

        ReplyDelete
      2. Cool recipe. What would be the ideal temperature for baking.

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      3. Salaam, Thanks for stopping by Ashi. Ideally bake the falafel at 180°c - 350°F for 12-15 minutes. Let me know if they came out. Have a great day!

        ReplyDelete
      4. your falafel looks wonderful. nice trick using besan flour and rolling in seeds. i'll try it* thanks! with love nawel

        ReplyDelete
      5. Looks wonderful! Chickpea flour - now I have another use for this flour.

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      6. i'm happy to "see" you again with a "ridiculously" easy but delicious receipe
        thanks

        ReplyDelete
      7. They look nice - not sure if I have had these before!

        ReplyDelete
      8. These look great! Love your photos, and I will have to try the recipe

        ReplyDelete

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