If you’re planning on joining the vegetarian cause (is it a cause, or is it an identity? An answer for another post, I’m sure), you better plan on eating your weight in falafal. Falafal-eating is a prerequisite for checking the box “yes” next to the vegetarian question, and with that falafel-eating comes an assortment of varieties, all with the basic outline of chick peas, herbs, and cumin. Within those varieties include the pretty good, the pretty bland, and the dunk-your-falafel-in-water kind, cause there ain’t enough liquid in that glass to alleviate the dryness of the falafal ball.
I find that many times it is the accoutrements that truly make this dish, whether you’re going fork-free with the falafel wrap or sit down with some nice grains and greens on the falafal platter. Dressings, tzatziki, veggies, tabbouleh. These all help out even the not-so-wondeful falafel, and with the correct use of these sides, your taste buds can be wildly confused and remember the dish as a culinary masterpiece. I’ll admit that I often find myself reordering a falafel platter at a restaurant, recalling the dish as a vegetarian delight only to find that it was the delicious tzatziki and pile of dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves, on the side and not the main protein that were striking a chord with my appetite.
So if falafels are a mandatory “meat substitute” for us herbivores, where do you go to find the perfect rendition of this standard cuisine? I’ll have you know that the best darn falafel you’ll ever have is waiting to made within the walls of your very own kitchen! Yes! Who would have thought the perfect falafel, one of the vegetarian’s go-to proteins, could be created by the consumer? It’s so very true.
I happened upon this falafel recipe many years ago on a google search for “quick falafel recipe” one afternoon when I was rushing from one job to another and needed to put together dinner for that evening during the in-between. The put-together is very quick and easy, set up time is two hours in the fridge, and then, of course, we roll into balls and fry at the end. I have to admit that the website is not the most compelling, the picture of “Moti” in the top left corner is charming, however the pictures of the finished product and the batter look far from appetizing. But I assure you that finding this recipe is akin to finding that hole-in-the-wall restaurant that brings up the deepest skepticism only to discover that the place is a treasured gem with the most authentic and delectable cuisine.
Since finding this recipe I have made it countless times for nightly dinners, for dinner parties, and for the freezer (they freeze wonderfully after frying–when you want them for dinner, just pull them out in the morning and then either pop them in the oven or nuclearwave at night). I’m at the point that I eye-ball pretty much all the bigger ingredients (not the spices) and enjoy pulling together this rich, herbally green batter that I almost never have trouble frying. Only once did they not take well to frying, and we used the batter as a hummus-like dip for chips that was a big hit at a party. Like all of the recipes I make, I saute the garlic on low heat in a little olive oil before combining into the mixture because I don’t love the strength of raw garlic, and sometimes, if the batter seems a little dry, I’ll add the smallest amount of water into the mix, but honestly, with or without that additional water, the falafels have never come out dry. Also, I make them into small 2″ x 3″ patties rather than balls so I can just flip them in the pan to get both sides evenly fried.
For dipping sauces, the vegetarian might enjoy Greek yogurt with chopped cucumber, a TEENY bit of honey, and a little bit of cumin. The vegan might fancy some tahini mixed with either Franks Hot Sauce or Sriracha with lemon juice and a little bit of water to thin it out (idea courtesy of Auntie Lo Lo).
One word of caution: once you make these, all other falafel will fall short of your expectations. Sorry! But thank you, Moti, for sharing your Mediterranean wisdom with us. Maybe it would be wise try another recipe from this “hole-in-the-wall restaurant.” I’m sure we would be as pleasantly surprised.
The link to this recipe, along with others, is listed on The Babbling Lotus’s vegan recipe page.