Wednesday, January 16, 2008

on falafel


I don't normally eat lunch out during the work week, for several reasons, which include cost, quality, and lack of decent resources nearby. at my current job, i'm one of the only people who brings lunch in - most everyone either orders a pizza or something from Jason's Deli, or goes to the food court in the nearby mall.

on weekends, i sometimes make up a big vat of something which will last me a whole week's worth of lunches. i don't mind eating the same thing two or even three days in a row, especially if it's good. because when i crave something, i have to have it, lots of it, in major quantity; and i will eat it until i get totally sick of it.

a couple of weekends ago, while needing a break from the studying, i made a boatload of falafel. i'd been craving falafel like mad. the recipe i've used for years is this one by Joan Nathan. it makes a good falafel each time.

so i reached for my food processor, but the space on the shelf was empty. for a moment, i thought we'd been robbed! but then i remembered that i'd loaned the food processor to the boy's restaurant before Christmas as theirs pooped out. it was supposed to be a temporary loan until they got a new one. i groaned... i had all the ingredients for falafel in my hands and i couldn't make it.


but then i found a workaround. our stick blender (boat motor) came with a small capacity choppy food processor type thing, so i took that down off the shelf and ended up blitzing the chick peas in batches, then the herbs, and tossed that all into a large bowl; then i took my pastry blender and mixed the rest in all by hand. it worked, and i had just the same results as i would have had with the larger food processor.

I didn't have any tahini, or the mango sauce (which i love and have doused tons of on my shwarma at Pita Palace); so i used what i had in the fridge. namely, a container of Sabra brand hummus (okay, i know that hummus is easy to make, but Sabra makes a good one and they sell it at my local Publix), some pickles, some cucumber, lettuce, and some homemade harissa i'd whipped up the night before (using the stick blender attachment thingy - whatever it's called). i made myself a couple of pita-fulls of it, ate some the next day, ate some more at work, and froze the rest. this falafel freezes really, really well; so if i do get sick of it after Day 2, i separate them out into zip top baggies and freeze them. the next time i want some, i take a baggie out and put it in the fridge; by the next day it will have defrosted.

i remember the first time i ate falafel was with my friend Dawn in high school. Dawn had just come back from a trip to Israel and falafel was all she could talk about (other than the bomb explosion which woke her up one morning down the street from her hotel). A falafel vendor had set up a cart in one of the malls* near our school, and Dawn urged me to try some. My first falafel had pickles and all the sauces and trimmings, and i wasn't sure that i liked it. but it had an intriguing flavor, and i was willing to try again. the more times i ate it, the more i liked it. i'll always associate the flavor of pickles with falafel - i just remember that first time, thinking, "This is the weirdest thing i've ever eaten". i'm glad i kept going back for more.

I've heard that the falafel at Pita Palace is really good, and every time i go i say to myself that i'll order it; but i eventually always get shwarma instead, because it beckons me, from its rotating vertical spit, begging me to eat it. so i give in, every time. ah, the power of shwarma.


* it wasn't really a mall, not the same thing as an American mall at all. just a kind of glass-enclosed alleyway between two streets with shops on either side.

7 comments:

emily1274 said...

I want some falafel! :) I don't like pickles on mine, though. I also love tziki on them...mmmmm.

Oh, and I do have a small food processor should you ever need it!

Ann said...

I adore falafel. And I admire you for making your own. My shameful confession is that I just buy the mix in a box. What can I say? I'm lazy!

Katy said...

yum! this sounds so good. i'm terrified of frying, btu i bet the recipe could be adapted to bake them, right?

french tart said...

i don't see why they can't be baked, but never having done it before, i'm not sure what they'd look like or taste like afterwards. maybe start them on the stove in a frying pan and give them a good browning all around, then finish in the oven?

Karyn said...

I've always shied around from trying to make my own falafal (I have found plenty of baked recipes, though).I guess I'm going to have to try it . ... at least it's something my sister likes, and my mother's willing to try!

B. e M. said...

Hi! when you defrost falafel do you re heat them in the oven? thank you so much Benedetta

french tart said...

you could reheat them in the oven; if you have a microwave oven that would work too.

if you reheat them in the oven, put them in a pan and cover it with aluminum foil or a lid.