I remember my first falafel sandwich. It was with my buddy Andrew, at the Falafel Drive In, in San Jose, CA. Little did I know that my first falafel sandwich was most likely the best version I was going to get for quite some time. I have still not found its equal... yet. BUT, this version comes really, really close. Falafel is super inexpensive, delicious AND vegetarian. It's gotta be considered a super food, 'cause it's AWESOME!
Let's make some delicious condiments for our sandwich!
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayo
- 1 Tbl Harissa (You can buy some prepared, but I used Home-made Harissa)
Throw everything in a blender or food processor, and blend until well mixed and smooth. Put in a squeeze bottle, for fancier sauce placement. ; )
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and cut into large chunks
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt (for draining cucumber)
1½ cups plain greek yogurt
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- 4½ teaspoons lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh dill
Place the chunks of cucumber in a strainer, and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. Let drain over the sink, or in a small bowl, for at least an hour. Pat the chunks dry with paper towels, and mince well. Mix minced cucumber with remaining ingredients together in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 3 days. Season with more salt if necessary. It should be rather tangy.
Who wants to make some falafel balls??
- 1 3/4 cups dried chickpeas or 1 cup dried chickpeas plus 3/4 cup dried split fava beans (I subbed frozen, thawed lima beans)
- 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- 1/2 onion, quartered
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- Scant teaspoon cayenne, or to taste; or mild chile powder to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup prepared hummus
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Soak beans for 24 hours!! (Trust me, canned garbanzos DO NOT taste the same!)
Put beans in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 to 4 inches — they will triple in volume as they soak. Soak for 24 hours, checking once or twice to see if you need to add water to keep the beans covered.
Drain beans well and transfer to a food processor with all the remaining ingredients except the oil; pulse until minced but not puréed; add water tablespoon by tablespoon if necessary to allow the machine to do its work, but keep the mixture as dry as possible. (Too much water and your falafel will fall apart. If that happens, add more ground beans.) Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, cayenne or a little more lemon juice as needed.
Put at least 2 to 3 inches of oil (more is better) in a large deep saucepan (the narrower the pan, the less oil you need; but the more oil you use, the more you can cook at one time). Turn heat to medium high and heat oil to about 350º (a pinch of batter will sizzle immediately; a piece of falafel will sink halfway to the bottom, then rise).
Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture and shape it into balls or small patties. Fry in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary; total cooking time per batch will be less than 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
**For my sandwich, I heated up some pita in a pan until slightly toasty and warm. I spread some hummus on the pita, topped that with chopped lettuce and fresh diced tomatoes, drizzled on a Tbls of Tzatziki, and then placed 3 falafel balls on top. A final drizzle of the harissa sauce on top of the falafel finished the sandwich, and there you have it! Classic falafel sandwich.