Although Egyptian in origin, felafel quickly found popularity in Lebanon as a healthy street food. Soon after my restaurant opened, I took a stall at the local Lygon Street Festa and served felafel and kafta. I thought I had made enough to last the day, but I couldn’t keep up with demand. Only one girl worked with me, and the poor thing had to go back to the restaurant every hour or so for more supplies so I didn’t run out.
Remember that you will need to start a day in advance because chickpeas and broad beans must be soaked overnight in water before cooking. You can use a utensil called an ol’eb felalfer to form evenly rounded felafels. This can be purchased from any Middle Eastern food store.
1 cup (200g) dried chickpeas, washed and drained
1 cup (180g) dried split broad beans, washed and drained
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 large onion, quartered
6 cloves garlic
1 cup coriander, washed (about 1 bunch)
3 bird’s eye hot chillies (more or less as preferred)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
olive oil, for deep-frying
Pickled turnips, sliced tomato, lettuce and chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)
1/2 cup (140g tahini)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
1 small tomato, chopped
1 small Lebanese cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Cover the chickpeas and broad beans with water, add 1 teaspoon of the bicarbonate of soda and soak overnight. Next day, drain, rinse and place them in a food processor with the onion, garlic, coriander and chillies. Blend until all the ingredients are well combined but still have texture. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the salt and spices.
To make the sauce, place the tahini and salt in a bowl and slowly add the lemon juice and 1/4 cup (60 ml) water, stirring continuously. Add the tomato, cucumber and parsley and stir to combine.
When you’re ready to cook the felafel, add the remaining bicarbonate of soda (this allows them to rise and become light and fluffy). Form tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and deep-fry in batches in a frying pan of very hot oil for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. (The felafel mixture does not have to be cooked immediately. To store, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to a year.)
Serve hot with the sauce spooned over accompanied by sliced tomato, lettuce and pickled turnip and garnished with parsley.
This recipe and others are included in Abla’s® book The Lebanese Kitchen, available from all good book stores, or by contacting Patricia at Present Company Included on +61 3 9387 4717.