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The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!

A Middle Eastern delight: Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans and they’ve been fast food in the Middle East forever. Falafel is usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread. The falafel patties are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel patties may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze. Falafel patties are appealing to children and are a good source of protein.

The origin of falafel is unknown and controversial. A common theory is that the dish originated in Egypt, Where is known as ta’amiya, possibly eaten by Copts as a replacement for meat during Lent. As it generally accepted to have first been made in Egypt, where Alexandria is a port city, it was possible to export the dish and name to other areas in the Middle East. It has also been theorized to a lesser extent that falafel originated during Egypt’s Pharaonic Period or in the Indian subcontinent. The dish later migrated northwards to the Levant, where chickpeas replaced the fava. Falafel has become a dish eaten throughout the Middle East and the fritters are now found around the world as a replacement for meat and as a form of street food. In modern times, falafel has been considered a national dish of Egypt and for the levant countries of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and specially for Palestine, where also the Israeli’s now claimed it to them selves after occupying the lands of Palestine in the mid 1900’s.

As with the falafel, dried chickpeas are a must for this recipe; the canned version are simply too soft and patties will fall apart.
Don’t use a food processor; it makes the mixture too runny to shape into patties. You can shape the Falafel by hand or use the falafel mold or scoop “Aleb Falafel”, it’s used both commercially and at home to shape the falafel and drop them straight into the hot oil.

1 pound dried chickpeas
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bundle of Parsley, washed and stems trimmed
1 bundle of cilantro, washed and stems trimed
2 slices of stale bread
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground dill seeds
1 tablespoon dried dill weed or chopped fresh dill weed
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, optional
Salt and pepper, as needed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1\2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
sesame seeds, optional

Make the Falafel:
Rinse and clean the chickpeas, then soak in water for at least overnight or 24 hours. Check if it needs more water, and make sure it’s all covered and the water is 2 inch above the chickpeas.
Drain the chickpeas and place them with the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and the bread in the bowl, then grind them in the meat grinder. I use the kitchen aid meat grinder, try not to use the food processor because it will make the batter too runny and mushy.
Run the ingredients through the grinder the first time, add the bread after grinding all the other ingredients, as this will help get every bit remaining of chickpeas and parsley from the grinder.
Add the spices and mix it together, then run the mix for second time through the grinder and grind it very fine, I used the smallest size of the grinder disk.
At this step, you can divide the mix into patches and freeze some for a quick and handy prepared falafel mix, just you have to defrost first then continue with the next step.
When you are ready to fry the falafel, add the salt, pepper, baking soda and baking powder. Mix will, and let set for 10 min before frying. If you see the mix too dry add a couple of tablespoon of water and mix.

Heat the oil. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls, or patties shape. you can use the falafel mold to shape it, sprinkle with sesame seed if you wish, and deep-fry or pan-fry in hot oil.
If you want a lighter falafel version, you can bake them, and you will get the healthier and still have the same delicious taste, You will have to arrange the patties in an oiled oven sheet, then spray the patties with oil and bake. But the traditional way is to fry falafel, to me I hardly die for fried ones.

Sandwiches:

to make the sandwiches, it’s a traditional way to serve with pita bread, the pocket pita is the perfect. you can use any size of pita, here I used the mini size “the griddler pita”, it’s the same recipe for pita bread but the only thing is it baked on the griddler.

6 to 8 pita, lightly toasted and warmed (recipe will posted soon in a separate post)
tahini sauce, recipe follow
Arabic simple salad, recipe follow
Hummos (recipe will posted in a separate post)

Make the Sandwiches: Stuff the pita with falafel patties inside, top with salad, and drizzle with the tahini sauce. Serve immediately.

The Arabic simple vegetable salad:

1 cup Shredded lettuce
1\2 cup Tomato, chopped
2 tablespoon red onion, chopped
1\2 cup cucumbers, chopped
1\2 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients together, season with salt and pepper.

Tahini Sauce:

1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

Mash the garlic and salt together. Add the tahini, mixing well. The sauce will thicken. Gradually add the water, blending thoroughly. Then add the lemon juice. Blend well.

Note: This can be a thin or thick sauce, depending upon the use and preference. Simply adjust with lemon juice and water. This can be used with vegetables or in combination with other recipes.