Sunday, August 7, 2011

Falafel Journey

Mediterranean spread, entirely homemade. Taken with our super duper canon 60d
This was such a loaded dinner, I don't know where to start... Starting at the beginning sounds right, but not sure where the beginning is. The beginning of time? The beginning of the process? Which process?
I guess this was about falafel, and everything else was built around that. We'll start with falafel.

We really like the occasional falafel. It's rather hard to find without wheat and other commercial additives so quite a few years ago, Pinny went on a falafel making journey. To be completely honest, it was not a journey I encouraged or even supported. Lots of messes were made. Many recipes were tried that simply didn't work. Lots of 'wasted' ingredients, gallons of organic extra virgin olive oil were tossed.  The flavor was really good, but the texture was off.

When the perfect recipe was finally developed, it proved worth the hassle. This is the way falafel is supposed to taste. What made the big difference? Uncooked chick peas. You read correctly. Don't cook the beans.
soaked and sprouting

Olives, picked by Pinny & Zalman
October 2010  in Arizona
Making falafel is somewhat of a "patchke". You need to start soaking the garbanzos a day and a half in advance (at the minimum). Drain and rinse and refill a few times. After adequate soaking (24 hour minimum) the beans are drained and left to start sprouting. The beans pictured here soaked for about 28 hours. They drained for at least 6 hours. You can see the tiny tails as the sprout starts to develop.

The fixings are also mess making. Pita, hummus, tahini, Israeli salad, pickles, olives, hot sauce, fries. None of these are too time consuming, but making them all at the same time... that's a serious commitment. The pickles and olives were made a while ago. (There will be a post on homemade pickles coming soon - I promise. Olives might be a while... but will happen eventually.)


The raw tahini had been prepared earlier. I make a batch every month or so. Hmmm, does that call for its own blog post? The short of it: Using a quality food processor like cuisinart (a lesser motor will burn out), drop in a pound or two of sesame seeds. Turn your machine on and walk away. The process takes about 10-15 minutes. Scrape down the sides every few minutes. Find something else to do in between because watching your sesame seeds become sesame paste is kinda boring and not the most efficient usage of time. When the oils are released, the paste will get hot and steam will come out the top of your food processor. This is totally normal. When it's smooth and white you have raw tahini. You can easily purchase unprocessed tahini, but my friend Yaakov Citrin introduced me to the process and I've since made my own. I add some garlic, water, cumin and lemon juice. Voila, tahini.

The hummus was also made earlier in the week. I freshened it up by browning some  sliced almonds in olive oil. Drizzled my hummus with olive oil, cumin and a tiny sprinkle of paprika, topped with the nuts and there's hummus.

The Israeli salad is not so messy, but  chopping everything into tiny little pieces was pretty time consuming. I happen to enjoy this process and find the repetitive chopping motion to be very therapeutic. In addition to the chopping therapy, having pretty things on my counter is always helpful. The red and yellow tomatoes combined with persian cukes made for a perfect focal point as I bustled around the kitchen.

My in house bread and dessert chef made the pitas. Levik makes rugelach, pizza, muffins, beautiful cookies and breads. All this talent under my roof, I am incredibly fortunate.

The potatoes were sliced and set to soak in a bowl of salted ice water. They would be fried
after the falafel and missed the group photo. By the time they were ready we had dug into everything and it was, well, messy.

So, back to the falafel process. The recipe:

1 lb. garbanzo beans – soaked and sprouted 

1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley

1/2 bunch cilantro
1 onion
1-2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon coriander

2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup water (as needed)

Olive oil for deep frying

Heat oil. Place the onion, garlic, herbs & chick peas into the food processor. Process until well combined, occasionally

 scraping down the sides of the bowl. If your mixture seems dry and crumbly add a little water. Pour the batter into a bowl and add the spices.
Wet hands to shape the balls. Drop into hot oil and fry. The balls will rise to the top of the oil and will need to be turned after 2-3 minutes or when the bottoms are browned. Cook for 2 more minutes or until uniformly browned.

Looking at my dinner table filled with beautiful foods that are all homemade gives me a great sense of satisfaction. I didn't do this all myself. My husband did a lot, my kids had their parts and thankfully, I had help for the cleanup.

...The recipe, the history, the fixings. The most frustrating part of this creation is actually getting this blog post up. I have such a hard time getting blogger to place my pictures where I want them. I have a vision of how this blog post should look, but my mode of communicating that vision to blogger feels very limited. Oh well, at least we have great falafel....

To good health,


PS If anybody has any blogger experience and can offer some tips on how to make posting with pictures less traumatic, please share the wealth.

falafel by pinny lew. photos by our super duper canon 60d


  1. Omigosh Chani you're so talented!!

  2. I see no problems with the pictures or their placements. Everything looks beautiful.

  3. Nice
    Makes you hungry just looking at the great shots

  4. One of my fav posts- so rich and beautiful!

  5. You inspired me! I made my own pita yesterday!

  6. chani, you should use picasa to collage your pictures and then upload to photobucket, ull have more control that way

  7. I know this is an old post, but I would love your hummus recipe, Please?