Falafel. Whenever I think of falafel, I can't help but think of Ross on Friends.
It wasn't until not that long ago that I actually had falafel for the first time. And that's sad, because falafel is so delicious. I had it while shopping at Opry Mills and eating in the food court. I was searching around for something vegan that I could eat that wasn't a simple salad. I saw falafel at one of the greek vendors, and decided to try it. It was awesome.
This recipe is just as awesome. It is based off of Alton Brown's falafel recipe, but I did make a few changes. It took 2 times to perfect this recipe. The original recipe called for dry chickpeas, not canned. Since I only had canned chickpeas, I figured I could use those and it wouldn't make much of a difference since they were just getting ground up anyway. Well that was a major fail. The canned chickpeas held in too much moisture and disintegrated when I tried to fry them. So don't use canned chickpeas. You'll get very angry and just end up eating french fries for dinner. Or maybe that's just me.
Falafel are naturally vegan. Traditional tzatziki sauce is made with cucumber, spices and yogurt. I just substituted the yogurt for vegan sour cream, and the result was delicious.
So I did have really good photos of these after I first made them, but I somehow accidentally deleted those photos, so what we are left with here are the leftovers, shot in a hurry-and-take-a-picture-before-packing-my-lunch-cause-I'm-running-late-for-work sort of fashion. They didn't turn out half bad, right?
Falafel & Vegan Tzatziki Sauce
For the Falafel: (adapted from Alton Brown)
1 lb dried chickpeas
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 small scallions, finely chopped
3 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 quarts peanut oil
Optional for serving: Pita bread, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes
For the tzatziki Sauce:
12 oz tofutti sour cream
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh dill
1/2 tsp salt
1 large seedless cucumber, roughly chopped
pepper, to taste
To make the falafel: Put chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Let them soak overnight.
Drain the chickpeas. Combine the drained chickpeas, cumin, coriander, garlic, scallions, salt, pepper, baking powder, cayenne and parsley together in a large bowl. Now it is time to grind this mixture all up. We did it in our stand mixer meat grinder attachment, but it will also work in a food processor by pulsing in medium sized batches.
Scoop out golf-ball sized balls of the mixture, rolling and squeezing the mixture together between your hands, to make it cohesive. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet until ready to fry. You can make these ahead of time, they can sit out at room temp for about 2 hours, or overnight in the fridge.
When you are ready to fry them, heat up the peanut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan, until the oil is about 350 (that's where you want the oil temp to stay). Place the falafel (about 3 or 4 at a time) into the hot oil, and fry until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Once the falafel are done frying, place them on a plate with paper towels, to drain.
Serve with pita bread, lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce (or hummus would also be delicious...chickpea overload!)
To make the tzatziki sauce: combine all ingredients into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Serve with falafel! or veggies. or anything, really.