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I love Middle Eastern cuisine because of its resemblance to Indian cuisine but at the same time the dishes here are much more milder with just a slight hint of the different flavors. It is definitely very comforting food for me. Falafels are immensely popular in NewYork city and the first time I had them there I fell in love with them. The falafel sandwich with the pita bread, the hummus accompanied with the other toppings like lettuce, tomatoes felt like a very fulfilling meal!
I have tried making falafel using canned chickpeas and using soaked dry chickpeas and I have found that the best texture is obtained by using dried chickpeas. The consistency of the ground chickpeas needs to be coarse and that is achieved only using dry chickpeas(garbanzo beans). Here is my recipe for a very satisfying falafel pita sandwich.
This recipe will make about 12-14 falafels
- 2 cups dried Chick peas (Garbanzo beans) soaked overnight or for 6-8 hours
- 1/2 of a medium onion, cut into large pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (use 1/4 tsp for mild)
- 1 tsp salt or per taste
- 1 tbsp chickpea flour(besan) or all purpose flour
- about 2 cups Vegetable oil for frying
1.Strain the soaked chickpeas in a large strainer or colander to drain all the water out. Then mix together with the onion, garlic and cilantro and grind in a food processor. You may have to grind in 2 or 3 batches depending upon the size of your food processor. do not add any water while grinding.
2.Once all the grinding is done, transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the red chilli powder, salt, turmeric, cumin and flour and using your hand try to make small flat circular shapes or small flattened rounds. See picture below.
3.Make only 4-5 rounds at a time and then deep fry them on medium heat until they turn golden brown on both sides (turn them mid way to cook on both sides). It should take about 3-4 minutes to fry them. if they turn brown sooner then it means your oil is too hot and so they will not be cooked in the center. Hence make sure your oil is not super hot.
4.Transfer onto a plate lined with a paper towel to remove the excess surface oil.
5.Repeat the above process until all the falafels are cooked.
Now to assemble the sandwiches, you need the following additional ingredients:
About 6-7 Pita breads
2 cups finely shredded lettuce
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
About 2 cups hummus (you can get either store bought one or make at home- See recipe for home-made hummus)
1/2 cup spicy tomato sauce (recipe given below*)
To assemble the sandwich, warm the pita breads on a pan one at a time for a few seconds(You need not do this if your pita bread is not cold at the time of using)
Then take the pita bread and cut it through the center into two halves such that you have two pita pockets. Use one pocket for one sandwich.
Apply one tsp of hummus on one side of the pita pocket and tomato sauce on the other side. Fill the pocket with two falafels. Add shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro and onions as per your taste. Drizzle extra hummus on top and enjoy!
*To make the spicy tomato sauce, take 3/4 cup tomato puree and add a pinch of cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt and heat on the stove for about 4-5 minutes on low heat.