Falafel is probably my favorite street food. When I was celebrating my last round birthday, I actually placed an order with my favorite falafel shop in Berlin who prepared a beautiful large platter for me with lots of oriental salads, fresh orange slices, dips, and – of course – falafel. – I was absolutely thrilled when it got delivered, but guess what: As the guests started pouring in, I got so busy to say hallo and chat with the guest that when I turned to the dinner table the next time, there wasn’t but one tiny falafel ball left… Well, I certainly enjoyed that one.
When I do not have to cater for dozens of people, I do enjoy making my own falafel. It is easy enough, you just have to consider that you need to start soaking the chickpeas 2 nights before as the dough will also require an overnighter in the fridge. At least, that is when you want to do it textbook style, but there are the obvious shortcuts (canned chickpeas, shorter resting time etc.).
You can certainly use pre-made tahini and pita bread and if you do not have a lot of time, this is what I would recommend (rather than not making falafel at all – o dear!). However, both tahini and pita bread are mostly a lot better when homemade. So when you do have the time at hand, give it a shot! Especially tahini can be kept for a long time once you made a batch so it is worth the effort!
For the falafel:
- 200 grams of dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight
- 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons of ffresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of Alppo pepper (pul biber)
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 4-6 tablespoons of bulgur (alternatively wheat flour)
- Plenty of vegetable oil for frying
For the yogurt dip:
- 250g of Greek yogurt
- 1 heaped teaspoon Dukkah spice mix
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Generous squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
For the tahini:
- 250 grams of peeled sesame
- 30 grams of sesame oil
- 40 grams of sunflower oil
For the pita bread:
- 200 grams of strong wheat flour
- 200 grams of plain wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 package of dry yeast (for 500 grams of flour)
- 270 ml of tepid water
- a few tablespoons of sunflower oil
Prepare the falafel dough one day before. The pita dough requires time to prove, consider as well when planning your meal. Have the tahini, the dip and the pita bread ready before frying the falafel.
Preparing the falafel:
- Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas, the onion, parsley, cilantro, salt, Aleppo pepper, and cumin in a food processor and process until blended but not pureed.
- Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of bulgur, and pulse. If required, dd more bulgur to reach the right consistency, The dough should no longer stick to your hands when you form it into small balls.
- Tip the dough into a large bowl, cover with celluphane and refrigerate, ideally overnight, so the spices infuse properly.
- After the resting time, form small balls from the dough about the size of walnuts.
- Heat up around 5 to 7 cm of vegetable oil in a deep frying pan or wok to 190 degrees Celsius. Place the raw balls in the oil – not too many at once – and fry from all sides until golden brown. Place on a kitchen towel to drain.
Preparing the yogurt dip:
- Mix the yogurt with the spices, lemon juice and herbs until smooth.
- Keep cool until serving.
Preparing the tahini:
- Roast the sesame in a non-stick frying pan without the addition of oil on medium to high heat. Turn permanently and roast until golden-brown. Let cool down.
- Tip into a blender. Blend while slowly adding the sesame and sunflower oil until you have a completely smooth, rather liquid paste.
- You can preserve any extras not used for the recipe in a very clean container (e.g. a preserving glass previously disinfected in boiling water).
Preparing the pita bread:
- Place both types of flour in a large bowl. Put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the opposite side (note that salt can stop the yeast working).
- Add the water and mix with a baking spatula or spoon until turning smooth. Transfer to a smooth surface and knead for several minutes until the dough comes properly together. Form into a ball and place in a large bowl previously greased with oil. Cover with cellophane and a kitchen towel and let rest in a warm dark place for around 1 to 2 hours (until doubled in size).
- Turn the dough over to a clean flat surface again. Turn over once or twice letting it drop back soon the surface to de-gas.
- Divide into 6 to 8 equal sized parts. Form each part into a ball.
- Lightly dust with flour and cover the balls with a cellophane and kitchen towel. Let prove for another 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius. Give it around 30 minutes before baking the breads to become properly hot. If you got a baking stone, heat up in the oven as well; otherwise use a baking tray.
- Gently pat each dough ball flat with your fingers, forming a flat, round bread about 0.5 cm thick. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Lightly dust the pitas with flour from both sides and bake on the hot stone or baking tray for around 5 to 10 minutes. They should just fluff up and not turn to brown. Keep warm wrapped in a kitchen towel until serving.
Serve the falafel immediately after frying with the dip and tahini on the side and some warm pita bread.