SO! Sunday sunday sunday. Tell me you're doing something for yo mamma. Whatcha doin'? How about FALAFEL??!?!
Weird. Yeah. I know. But really! She'd be so impressed. Look at you flippin' that falafel and setting the table like a grown-up. I've been dying to try out this recipe, and my mamma gave me the opportunity to do just that (my mamma-in-law, anyway...HI REAL MOM! YOU'RE ALL THE WAY IN IDAHO AND THAT MAKES ME SAD CAUSE YOU'D BE EATING FALAFEL ON MY PORCH AND STUFF!) If I were walking down the busy, lively street of my dreams with an Arabian breeze blowing brightly colored scarves around that are hung inexplicable high in the air with the smell of saffron tickling my nose, falafel would be on every street vendor's cart. There would be falafel to my right and to my left and in my hands and in my tummy all at the same time and I would still walk more. Smooshed into a pita and slathered with a yummy sauce, falafel is essentially a chickpea patty that's be seasoned to perfection and blessed with revelry.
It's calling you right now. Can you hear it? I bet your Mom can.
You can choose to bake or fry your falafel patties (or even deep fry them if you're feeling especially naughty), but keep in mind that fried falafel is the true falafel. I baked mine and had the strange realization that I actually missed the slight greasiness that comes with street food. Huh. Go figure. Baked is definitely the way to go if you're watching calories.
BUT FIRST! Let's make the sauce, a tzatziki-cucumber-yogurt-lemon-dill-tahini-like mindmeld of flavor. It needs to hang out in the fridge for a while to help the flavors really come out, so you'd better make time for that. Overnight is best, but not imperative. Toss the following into your blender:
9 oz. silken tofu (that's three quarters-ish of a package)****
3 cloves garlic, lightly minced
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp soy sauce, tamari, or shoyu
2 tbs dill, fresh or dried (load it on...tis delish)
2 tbs soy milk (feel free to adjust according to your own texture preferences, more=thinner)
salt and pepper to taste
Buzz it up, pausing to scrape down the sides or to add more soy milk. Taste it for seasonings then put it in the fridge, covered, for at least an hour or overnight.
Sauce is down. Onto those yummy chickpea patties.
In a big bowl, dump:
2 cans chickpeas, drained
Now, teehee, you have to smash them up somehow. Count yourself among the lucky if you have a food processor! Otherwise, bust out your potato masher, find yourself a seat on the couch, then wedge that bowl between your heels on the floor and start smashing. It takes about 5 minutes to get the chickpeas good and smooth and about 1 minute before you realize just how long 5 minutes really is. When it's there, all smooth and nice, bring the bowl and your bad self back into the kitchen and add:
1 onion, diced
3-10 cloves garlic (more more more more)
1 tbs cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/2-3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional but encouraged)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
Stir it all up. It should look really nice now, like grits or polenta. No hunky chunkies allowed. Finally, you're going to add some bread crumbs, but only enough to make the patties hold together. I used about 1 cup, but others have needed up to 2 cups. Add, stir, add, stir until it looks good....not too dry but also not sticky. Shape the falafel into patties (since they fit into pitas with so much more grace and civility than balls) and get ready to cook. If you don't want to use all the patties right away (I ended up with 10), wrap up them up in plastic UNCOOKED and refrigerate for tomorrow.
If you're baking your patties, toss them onto a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flip 'em, and bake for 10 minutes longer until they've browned. Frying is a simple matter of coating the bottom of your big skillet generously with olive oil and dropping those patties down, cooking until browned and crispy, then flipping and cooking again.
Serve your fab falafel in a pita with tomatoes and a generous dallop of sauce. Aren't YOU the coolest cat on the block! Don't YOU have the best mother in the world?!??!
Thanks, Moms. You guys are pretty special.
****Oh what'll I do with that extra slab of silken tofu??!??!? Wait. Just wait. Tomorrow's recipe is gonna blow your mind. And it'll go great with fab-lafel.
(recipe adapted from and inspired by The Vegan Table, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)