I love Falafel, and there are many styles of falafel, which explains the almost religious positions people take when they talk about their favorite falafel which is of course the best and only "real" or "authentic", where all other styles are crap, and fake...
I grew up in Israel and falafel is the standard street food there. On my way back home from school I stopped at one of 2 falafel stands in my town, and picked up what we called "half a portion" which was half a pita made hollow and stuffed with three (count them, three) falafel balls, a salad made of tomatoes and cucumbers and such, and topped with a choice of three different sauces: Tahini, Chili, or Amba ( but Amba is a different show)..
when ever I have a craving for Falafel I would either got to one of many joints in the bay area and buy one. it would hit the spot, but wasn't what I was considering my "real" falafel, which is what I grew up on.. if I was in a bind I would try those powdered falafel mixes which were not the greatest but would do.. (not really)..
A few months ago I decided to try recreating the falafel I love. and In the process I found that I could even improve on that version.
what is Falafel
Falafel in its essence is ground up chick peas (Hummus) with a mixture of herbs and spices, formed into small balls and deep fried to golden brown and delicious..
Chick peas: raw? cocked? canned? which kind?
there are 2 types on chick peas: the European and the Eastern. The European chick pea is the one we call Garbanzo, or Hummus. It is beige/white color, it has a kind of peal that looks like a plastic wrap around the kernel. The Eastern chick pea is dark brown almost half the size of the European pea, and its flesh is yellow. Every Indian store in the bay area (California) has both kinds. Their names are Kabuli Chana, or Kali Chana (where chana is Indian for Chick pea). Kabuli is what they call the European pea, and Kali is the Eastern pea. why am I telling all this? because I found that if you mix the two the falafel tastes even better... The Eastern pea has a dark brown husk that is not pretty, BUT, you can buy the Eastern pea already pealed and even split, and that is called Chana Dal (or Dhal, or Dahl or Dall etc..)
So you guessed it, I use dry chick peas in a mix of 2 parts European to 1 part of Eastern peas.
Soak the chick peas in water for 12 hours (until you can bite into a big kernel and it is soft through and through).
Drain the peas and let them sit for a while until all the water drained, and they are almost dry.
Runs the peas and all other ingredients through a meat grinder (onion, garlic, herbs and all)
Add salt, spices
Mix all very well until the mixture is uniform
Heat up vegetables oil to 350f (remember, we are deep frying, deep!)
Take on heaping tablespoon of the mixture and form a ball (1.25" or so in diameter), but be careful not to pack it down too much, try to keep it as fluffy as you can without it falling apart.
Drop one ball into the oil and fry it until it is dark gold in color
Now the fun part: eat it! does it need more salt? More cumin? adjust and try again, Now go ahead fry the rest.