MIDDLE EASTERN

ZHOUG FALAFEL

By Sam | 28 May, 2020

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Managing to straddle that wafer-thin line between vegetarian poster boy, salad superstar and flavour-filled fast-food, Falafel is becoming an increasing favourite not only amongst the vegetarian and vegan scene. 

A crisp and crunchy exterior encasing a fluffy, herb-rich centre, there’s little arguing that Falafel is spectacularly delicious. 

Homemade Falafel can seem daunting to some. Indeed, to me also at first. However, once you have the hang of it, there are few dishes I have found to be more rewarding when fashioned in one’s own kitchen. 

We have flavoured ours with the Yemenite sauce Zhoug, a popular condiment often consumed with Falafel. The zingy, garlicky, bright green sauce boosting the herb-filled falafel to wonderful effect. 

A real favourite.  

  • Author: Sam
Scale

Ingredients

THE FALAFEL

200g Dried Chickpeas,

3 tbsp Zhoug,

2 Small Shallots,

2 Garlic Cloves,

25g Chickpea Flour,

1 tsp. Baking Powder,

1 tsp. Ground Coriander,

1 tsp. Ground Cumin,

Small Bunch of Coriander, about 25g

Small Bunch of Parsley, about 25g

Generous Pinch of Salt & Pepper

THE TAHINI SAUCE

50g. Tahini,

20ml Olive Oil,

Juice of 1 Lemon,

1 Small Garlic Clove, grated

Generous Pinch of Salt & Pepper

TO COOK

Groundnut Oil

METHOD

SOAKING THE CHICKPEAS

NOTE – You MUST use dried chickpeas for this recipe. Too many recipes I have tried in the past (unsuccessfully) do not stipulate this – substituting canned or jarred chickpeas in this recipe will not work, they will be too hydrated and your falafel will fall apart when frying. You may have some success with canned or jarred chickpeas by adjusting the flour ratios or cooking differently, but for this recipe, you MUST use dried chickpeas. 

  1. Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover generously with water. Remember the chickpeas will absorb a large amount of this water so you may need more than you would think – I usually use 1 litre just to be sure.
  2. Leave to soak overnight until doubled in size. 

TIP – For the best possible results, you can hull the skins from your chickpeas once they are hydrated. I find this to be a bizarrely therapeutic practice in much the same way as shelling pistachios are. That said, I usually lose patience and do without – the final product is barely lesser for it, but if you have the strength of will – all the better! 

PREPARING THE FALAFEL
  1. Add the soaked chickpeas into a food processor and pulse until the chickpeas resemble fine breadcrumbs. It is important not to over-pulse the chickpeas or the falafel will be dense. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Place the shallots, garlic, zhoug and herbs into a food processor. Pulse together until it resembles the pulsed chickpeas – finely chopped but not too fine as to become a puree. Add to the mixing bowl with the chickpeas. 
  3. Mix together the pulsed chickpeas and herb mixture until evenly combined. Add the chickpea flour, baking powder, ground spices and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together until evenly combined.
  4. Form the mixture into 30g balls, roughly the size of a golf ball. When forming the balls, try not to over-compress the mixture or squeeze out all the moisture – the chickpea flour will act to bind the mixture together and the balls will hold their shape. 
  5. Refrigerate the falafel for at least 30 minutes before cooking. 
THE TAHINI SAUCE
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice and the garlic. Whisk together until smooth and emulsified. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk again until combined. You may need to add a splash of water to loosen the sauce – ideally you want the consistency of yoghurt. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside until needed.
FRYING THE FALAFEL
  1. Fill a saucepan with groundnut oil, suitable for frying, to a depth of at least 5 cm. Heat the oil to a temperature of 160ºC (about medium heat on the hob). 
  2. Using a spider or slotted spoon, gently lower the chilled falafel into the oil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the falafel from the hot oil using a spider or slotted spoon and transfer onto a plate lined with kitchen roll to absorb any oil. You will probably find this easier to do in batches as it will prevent the pan from overcrowding and allow for you to keep the temperature of the oil at stable levels more easily.
  3. Serve the falafel with the tahini sauce however you best like, whether in a salad, a grain bowl, swaddled in a toasted pita or simply drenched in the tahini sauce on the end of a fork. Enjoy.    

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