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Falafel - fried balls of chickpeas

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"Vegetarian meatballs" Yeah ok. It may be a description I have made up myself, but it is not entirely wrong. Falafel reminds me a lot of meatballs. I am very fond of dishes with chickpeas in general. But there is no doubt that this is among my top two ways to make them. Humus being the second favourite.

Falafel - fried balls of chickpeas

Falafel ... a vegetarian meatball

Ingredients

  • 250 g (9 oz) chickpeas (dry weight)
  • herbs and spices
    • 1 bunch parsley, fresh 
    • 1 bunch cilantro, fresh
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 tsp coriander, ground 
    • 1 tsp cumin, ground
    • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp flour or cornstarch

For frying

  • 1 liter tasteless oil (or more)

Directions

Cover the chickpeas in plenty of water and let them soak for 12-24 hours. Preferably for 24.

Mixing

When they are large and soft, then drain and rinse them. Remove any stones.

Chop them in a food processor, as finely as you are able to.

Put the chopped chickpeas into a large bowl.

Put the rest of the ingredients except the flour and baking powder into the food processor along with approximately the same amount of the chopped chickpeas.

Food process it :-)

Then mix the flour and baking powder, so that both can become evenly distributed in the chickpeas.

Now mix all the ingredients together with the chickpeas.

Frying

Heat the oil to 160°C to 180°C (320°F to 360°F). The closer to 180°C (360°F) the better.

Form the the chickpea mixture into solid spheres in the same way as you would do with meatballs. Use a spoon and you palm.

Fry them in the hot oil until well browned. 2-3 minutes depending on the temperature of the oil.

I usually cook 4 at a time in a saucepan.

Put them onto a drying rack or a towel.

Notes

Chickpeas swell up to twice their size and weight as they soak, so make sure your bowl is big enough to begin with. There should be approx. ½ of extra water to ensure that the chickpeas are well covered. Check on them after a while and see if they lack water.

When you pour a little chickpeas back together with herbs and spices. it is because that makes it easier to chop them, and it ensures that it gets mixed evenly back into the rest of the chickpeas.

If the mixture does not stick together when you shape it into balls, you can add a little bit of water, but it should not be too wet.

You should rather fry to few than too many at a time. If you fry to many at a time, the temperature of the oil will drop too much. I use a meat thermometer and keep an eye on the temperature, that it does not drop below  160°C (300°F). That way I know how many can be fried at a time.

Normally, the falafles generate a lot of steam when they fry in the hot oil. The steam pushes back oil so it does not soak into the falafals. You can therefore see that the temperature of your oil, and your cooking is okay, if the falafels don't seep oil when lying them on a paper towel. If the towel becomes wet with oil, and your falafels are greasy to th touch, then the temperature is too low, and the cooking time is too long. That will make them absorb too much oil.

Some recipes recommend that you boil the chickpeas before mixing and frying them. If you see such a recipe, you can rest assured that those who have made it, has written it of from someone who has never tried making falafel!

The first 5 times I tried to make it, I made it with cooked chickpeas. Because I had gotten my hands on a few recipes of that kind. What happened was that falafels fell apart as soon as they entered the hot oil. They dissolved 100%. "Greasy black fried mulch" is absolutely not as delicious as falafel!

Canned chickpeas cannot be used either. As they are pre cooked.

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