I know that we are all supposed to love and admire vegetarians and vegans for their sacrifices for the planet and all but honestly, I still haven’t fully forgiven them for ruining the falafel. In the 1990s and 2000s, all these trendy vegetarian restaurants popped up serving dry and crusty BAKED falafel. I mean, honestly. Whenever someone tells me that they don’t like falafel, I simply assume they have only tried this type and so don’t take them too seriously.
Let me tell you about a small standing only restaurant in Bethlehem called Afteem, just down a small alley from the hot and busy Manger Square where a giant gas fired wok of oil is perched on the pavement frying thousands of falafel a day which are then-still warm-pressed into fluffy pitta breads, nestled amongst fresh and crunchy chopped vegetables and pickles, and drenched in Badounsia (a punchy tahini and parsley sauce).
If you are feeling very hungry you can also help yourself to fried aubergine, cauliflower and potatoes to shove into your falafel sandwich and eventually your mouth. If falafel doesn’t come like this then I just don’t want it. We love eating this for lunch on sunny days in our garden here in the UK and its deceptively little effort for so much deliciousness. My sons are particular fans. Good lads.
250g dried chickpeas (soak in a few litres of water the night before)
2 large shallots
1 garlic clove
large bunch of fresh parsley
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
half cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of dried parsley
salt & pepper
Optinal: a fresh green chili
enough vegetable oil to deep fry
make sue you soak your dried chickpeas in a few litres of cold water the night before so that they are about double the size. but do not cook them. They want to be raw.
put all the ingredients into the food processor and turn on. Let the machine work for a few minutes until you get a nice and thick chickpea batter.
warm up the oil until it is hot and then using two tea spoons drop the falafel into the hot oil and cook for a few minutes util they are crisp and golden brown. we use teaspoons and end up with falafel about the size of a slightly flattened ping pong ball. you can buy falafel shapers online if you like.
keep warm in the oven on low until they are all cooked and ready to be served with everything else.