Soaking time: 12 hours
Waiting time: 1 hour
Cooking time: A few minutes
Falafels are fried dried pea and chick pea balls. In Lebanon, they're a staple in the category of hot hors d'oeuvre known as meze.
Falafels can be made as small balls for hors d'oeuvres, or larger for a meal.
They are served sprinkled with chopped parsley, accompanied by small dishes of pickled radish, diced tomato, sesame cream (taratour) sauce made with lemon, salt and a clove of crushed garlic, or zahtar.
Just before serving, separate the two discs of Arab bread or pita. Place the falafel on a bread disc and cover it with the other half to keep it hot.
Feriale, our correspondent in Beirut, says "We use beans that are bought with their skins already removed. Salt and pepper are not enough to give the falafel its authentic flavor; it's actually a highly spiced dish. Here you can buy spice blends for falafels in the market. In western countries, they're available in specialty groceries. Falafels are so much a part of our culture that there are special football-shaped molds sold specifically for forming falafels."
(1) Why baking soda?
To make the dry vegetables more digestibles. Use 1 pinch of magic powder per liter of water.
- Wash the beans and chick peas in cold water with a pinch of baking soda and soak for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature. They need to "sprout" - be sure that the water covers the beans and peas by at least 5 cm (2").
- Drain; place into a pot with 1 Tsp. baking soda; cover completely with water; add the salt.
- Bring the water to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer until the beans and chick peas are tender - about 2 hours.
- Drain; put the beans and chick peas, parsley, onion and garlic through a food mill or a mixer to obtain a pasty consistency.
- Knead together with the salt, pepper, flour and spices; let rest at least one hour.
- Form into small slightly elongated balls about 5 cm (2") long and 1.5 cm (1/2") thick.
- Fry in oil for about 2 minutes on each side or until nicely golden; drain on paper towels.
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