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Friday, January 13, 2012

Black Bean, Chickpea and Pea "Falafel"

My vegetarian kick has brought me to try my hand at falafel. While in Israel two summers ago, I tried some of the best falafel I have ever had and have wanted to try and replicate them. Falafel is a deep fried or pan-fried chickpea patty filled with all sorts of spices and herbs. Falafel is thought to have originated in Egypt and was eaten as an alternative to meat during lent. Falafel is a very healthy food, despite the oil used in deep frying. To make my falafel's a bit more healthy, I pan-fried my patties much like you would a potato pancake. Unfortunately the patties didn't turn out as crispy as a deep fried falafel, but the taste was comparable. I didn't follow a recipe, so I had to improvise along the way. I had trouble getting my falafel batter to the proper thickness for frying, so I had to add some toasted bread (thanks for the  recommendation Natalie!) which did help a bit. Some falafel recipes call for mashing the chickpeas instead of blending them in a food processor which makes for a looser more textured batter. I used a food processor which created a fine consistency and a denser patty. I have to admit, I would have liked my falafel to have turned out a hair fluffier, but for a first try, not too shabby. I used black beans and green peas as an additional filler, which added flavor and nutrients. I would advise readers to drain their beans a few times to remove all additional moisture, resulting in a thicker batter. I have my recipe listed below including the tzatziki sauce (cucumber yogurt sauce) so be sure to give them a try or make your own version!

Rachael's Chickpea, Black Bean and Pea Falafel 
*be advised that quantities are estimates and not exact
(makes about 2 dozen 1-2 in. patties)

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup green peas, thawed
1 cup cilantro 
1 cup chopped red onion
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced 
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3 tbsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup flour (more in batter is too thin)
5 slices toasted bread, diced 
1 head roasted garlic

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until combined. Add additional binding ingredients as needed such as flour or bread. Heat large skillet with vegetable oil to coat pan, and heat on high. Add a handful of batter into pan and fry into a patty shape until both sides are crispy and brown. Allow to dry on a paper towel and continue until all batter has been cooked. Place inside pita bread along with tzatziki sauce, tomato, cucumber, onion and lettuce. 

Tzatziki Sauce
(makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1 single container of plain greek yogurt 
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup dill
Pinch of salt, pepper and cumin

Pulse all ingredients together in food processor and save for falafel sandwiches. 

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