OK, here’s the deal: Four years ago, artist Susan Schwake offered us a falafel recipe for the column that we didn’t end up posting. (Sorry, Suzie!) I had tried making falafel and found that the recipes I used had no “binder” in them, so when I fried them, they just broke into a million pieces. Susan’s recipe had flour in it, so I was dubious. To settle the score, we met up in Muenster and went to her favorite falafel shop and asked. They looked at us like we’d insulted their mothers when we asked if there was any binder. They said, “NO, NEVER!!!” Fast-forward to this year, and some colleagues bought me falafel for lunch, claiming it was the best they’d ever had outside of countries where falafel is eaten often. That gave me the idea to check with Israeli photographer/food stylist team Matkonation to see if they had a recipe for falafel that could answer this “binder/no binder” question. How do you make your falafel? (Don’t tell me with a mix!!!) See Matkonation’s recipe for Israel’s official street food, Falafel, after the jump! To see Israel’s national Friday night food, click here. — Kristina
About Matkonation: Danya Weiner, who was born in Los Angeles and moved to Israel at the age of two, has been working in the field of photography for over a decade. Specializing in food, Danya’s work has been featured in Israel’s top culinary magazines, advertisements and cookbooks. A mother of two young boys, she somehow finds the time to teach photography at a local college. Deanna Linder moved to Israel from Los Angeles to pursue a love interest and a budding career in the field of terrorism research. Eight years later, she lives on a farm with that love interest of hers (and a little one), works as a food stylist and cookbook editor and couldn’t be happier. Together, they are Matkonation, a bilingual (Hebrew and English) food blog, which is fueled by their love for aesthetics and passion for food.
The full recipe continues after the jump . . .
Ingredients for about 25 balls
- 2 1/2 cups dried chickpeas
- 1 small Spanish onion, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup water
- oil for deep frying
1. Soak chickpeas overnight in a large bowl filled with water.
2. Drain chickpeas and place them in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro and parsley and pulse until ingredients are combined and the texture is grainy.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cumin, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chickpea mixture and mix until well combined. Gradually add the water and mix until reaching a thick, paste-like texture.
4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, using your hands, form the chickpea mixture into balls, about the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Once the oil is hot (375º), place the balls in the oil, a few at a time, and cook for about 3–5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with a spotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
5. Serve hot with tahini, pita and salad. Or eat those little guys on their own. Your call.
Why Danya and Deanna Love This Recipe
Falafel is the official street food of Israel (shwarma being a close second). Falafel stands are about as prominent in every Israel town and city as are sushi bars in strip malls in LA. Costing between about 2.50 and 5.00 US dollars (half portion/whole portion), what you see is what you get: a pita filled with Israeli salad, consisting of tomatoes and cucumbers, fresh fried falafel and tahini. It’s messy, and hard-core, and fried — just the way street food should be.