Food is deeply personal and becomes rooted in us at a very young age. For most of us, our comfort food is what we grew up eating – the special meals our parents made for us in celebration, or even just the simple daily meals we ate together as a family. After I moved away from home, this was one meal I missed the most and looked forward every time I went back to visit.
2. Don’t over blend. The falafel “dough” must be granular rather than smooth.
3. Adding a little baking soda keeps them light.
4. Lastly, let them “rest” at least 20 minutes before frying to allow them to bind. This is key.
5. Fry in a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet, in a generous amount of oil to prevent sticking.If done this way, you will not need to add flour or bread crumbs….keeping them gluten free. If you still have trouble with them sticking to the pan, try lightly coating in flour. If still having problems, you could also form into balls, then refrigerate, firming them up before frying.
Place the drained, soaked beans in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Sometimes my mom would substitute half of the garbanzo beans with fava beans, which is a more of the Egyptian version.
Making homemade pita bread is an easy project – and doing this with your kids is especially fun. Of course, store bought pita bread is always a great option, if pressed for time.I remember making pita bread with my mom when I was little, and I’ll never forget the feeling of complete surprise, seeing the flat dough, magically puff up in the hot oven.With the rising time, its about a 3 hour commitment, so plan accordingly.
A few tips to make pita that will puff up in the oven:
1. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size. This is really important. Using quick rising yeast will cut your time almost in half. (Otherwise plan on a good 3 hours of rising time).
Once the dough has risen and you have made the balls, let them rise again for at least 15 minutes, before rolling out.
2.When ready to bake, make sure the oven is thoroughly preheated to 500F with the baking sheet in it. The baking sheet or bread stone should be hot. If it is not, your pita may not puff up. Bake on the lowest rack. They cook very quickly, so don’t walk away.
3. Resist opening the oven door until ready to flip them.
4. When done, place them in a large zip lock bag, which will keep the steam in and keep them from drying out.
Play around with making mini pitas, for bite-sized falafel appetizers. You can use a round cookie cutter, if you want uniformity, or even use other shaped cookie cutters (like a heart, or flower).
For basic pita bread, roll the dough into a log and divide into 12 golf ball- sized balls. Let rest 10-15 minutes, covered with a towel.
On a floured surface …roll out balls to 1/4 inch thick round, about 5-6 inches in diameter.
Falafels with Tahini Sauce and Homemade Pita Bread
How to make Falafels with soaked chickpeas, with Homemade Pita, Creamy Tahini Sauce, Pickled Turnips, Cucumber Yogurt Sauce and Lemony Tahini Dressing
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 6-8
- Category: Falafels with Creamy Tahini Sauce and Pita
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
- 2 cups Garbanzo beans -uncooked, soaked over night, drained
- 1 cups Chopped Cilantro ( stems ok)
- ½ of small white onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small chili- finely diced
- 1 T Coriander
- 1 T Cumin
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt ( add more to taste)
- flour and canola oil for frying
Pita Bread Recipe ( makes 12 pita)
- 1 package quick rising yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 3 ¼ cups all purpose flour, bread flour- or a mix of whole wheat and white
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips
- 2 medium turnips, peeled and thinly sliced.
- 2- 3 slices of a small red beet, ( optional, for color)
- ½ thinly sliced onion
- 2 sliced garlic cloves
- 3/4 C red wine vinegar
- 3/4 C water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- Additions: peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dill ( all optional)
Creamy Tahini Sauce:
- 3/4 Cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 C tahini paste
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- cracked pepper
- Juice of one medium lemon
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
- 1 Cup plain thick greek yogurt
- 2 small persian cucumbers cut lengthwise, then thinly sliced ( or 1 C english cucumber) Skin ok.
- 2 -3 T chopped fresh mint, dill, italian parsley or cilantro ( or a combination is nice)
- 1-2 T lemon juice
- 1-2 minced garlic cloves
- ½ tsp kosher salt -or salt to taste.
- pepper to taste, white pepper is a nice touch.
- pinch of cayenne or squirt of sirracha sauce.
Lemony Tahini Dressing ( for a falafel salad)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 C tahini
- 1/2 C water
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 T chopped parsley
- In a food processor, pulse the soaked, uncooked chickpeas and salt until they are the consistency of very coarse sand. (See photo)
- Add the remaining ingredients, pulsing, scraping down sides, until it forms a bright green paste with a fine crumb. Don’t overwork it- it should not be smooth, but rather quite granular. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or overnight.
- Form round, slightly smaller than golf ball sized balls and flatten just slightly. Lightly flour if you like. In a non stick pan or cast iron skillet, heat a ¼ inch of olive or peanut oil on med high heat until it sizzles when a pea sized portion of falafel is dropped in.
- Turn heat to medium. Start with one tester falafel. Fry until all sides are a deep golden brown- this should take about 6-7 minutes. Place in a 350 oven while you cook remaining falafels. If the falafels stick to the pan, try dredging the falafel in a little flour (rice flour works too!) Place in a warm oven until ready to use for up to 20 minutes.
Homemade Pita Bread Instructions:
- Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy. Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression. Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.
- Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. (Alternately, place in a stand mixer and mix with paddle attachment until combined, then switch to dough hook on med -low for 10 minutes) When the dough is no longer very sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.
- Coat large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to sit in a warm place for 2- 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
- Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 F and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet, or pizza stone. It is crucial that this is hot too.
- Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick, no thinner. Let rest for a few minutes before baking. By the time you get done rolling them all out, the first ones will be ready to bake.
- Bake each pita for 3-4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 1- 2 minutes. It’s good to start with one tester. If your pita is not puffing up, make sure your oven is truly at a very hot 500 F, and do NOT open the oven door during the first 3-4 minutes of baking. Make sure your pan is hot too. If pitas are rolled too thin, sometimes they will not puff up. Lastly, if the dough is not given the proper time to rise (doubling in size) they also may not puff up.
- Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking. Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in large a storage bag…. this will keep the steam in and keep them moist. You can use a large cookie cutter for mini pitas, to get that uniformed look, perfect for an appetizer- sized falafel.
Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips
- Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium sized pot, remove form heat, and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Creamy Tahini Sauce:
- Blend all in the food processor, until smooth. This may seem salty, but trust me it works in the big picture, when all the components are combined.
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
- Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl, stir and refridgerate until ready to serve.
Lemony Tahini Dressing ( for a Falafel Salad)
- Whisk all ingredients together in a small jar.
- Toss a little dressing with your favorite greens ( I use kale and arugula), tomato, cucumber and or any salad veggie you like, and top with warm falafels.
If Baking the falafels, heat oven to 400F. Place balls on lightly greased parchment lined sheet pan. Brush or spray with olive oil. Bake 12-15 minutes, flip and bake 10-15 more minutes or until golden.