Summer is all about taking time to do the things one often doesn’t have time for during the year.
So, it has been months that I’ve been dreaming about getting into the kitchen and being creative, making falafel and pita from scratch and relaxing with an authentic Israeli meal!
I must say that this Falafel recipe is incredible and so is the Pita bread and Techina!
FALAFEL (Yield about 20 Falafel balls)
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (I used canned chickpeas)
- 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper (I omitted)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4-6 tablespoons flour
- Soybean or vegetable oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)
- Chopped tomato for garnish
- Diced onion for garnish
- Diced green bell pepper for garnish
- Tahina sauce
- Pita bread
- Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.
- Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade (I used my vitamin). Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
- Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours. ( I only refrigerated it for 1 hour and did need to add flour so it wouldn’t be sticky).
- Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets. (I used my hands)
- Heat 3 inches of oil to 375ºF in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.
TECHINA (From Michael Solomonov’s cookbook ZAHAV)
- Juice of 1 1/2 large lemons (about 1/3 cup), more to taste
- 2 to 4 cloves garlic, grated (or minced)
- 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
- 1 cup sesame tahini (I use the 365 brand)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin, more to taste
In a blender, combine the lemon juice, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let mixture sit 10 minutes. Add tahini, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the cumin, and blend until a thick paste forms. Add 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water while blender is running, a little at a time, until sauce is smooth. You’re looking for a perfectly smooth, creamy sauce.
PITA BREAD (From Michael Solomonov’s cookbook ZAHAV)
- 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Mix together ½ cup water, the yeast, and sugar in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or a large mixing bowl. Mix using the stand mixer or a wooden spoon until blended. Add the yeast mixture, another ½ cup of water, and the oil and mix until the dough forms a ball that pulls clear of the sides and bottom of the bowl. If after a few minutes the mixture doesn’t form a ball, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it does.
- The moment the dough starts to pull clear of the bottom of the bowl, add ½ cup water and continue mixing until incorporated. The dough should feel tacky when slapped with a clean hand, but it should not stick. If it sticks, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about an hour. Alternatively, let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, with a rack in the upper third. Place a baking stone or an inverted baking sheet (I used a cookie sheet) in the oven to preheat as well.
- Roll the dough into 8 balls the size of baseballs. Cover with a cloth and let rise until they are about the size of softballs.
- Roll each dough ball to about ¼” thickness with a floured rolling pin on a floured work surface. Place one or two (I placed more, as many as would fit) at a time on the baking stone or baking sheet and bake until puffed and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately, or let cool.