Sunday, April 1, 2012

Vegetarian for a Week - Day 5 - Falafel and Hummus

I knew it was going to happen.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to make a post every day for an entire week.  Either something would come up, or I would be just too lazy.  I was surprised that I had even gotten five posts up in a row.  If you look at my history of posting, you would know that I'm not joking. 

What I can say on my behalf is that I really was super busy these past two days.  Plus, I didn't cook anything vegetarian so there would have been no point in posting.  I considered doing a smoothie post on Friday, but I thought that would just be a major let down.  So I'm making up for it today by sharing an amazing falafel and hummus recipe with you.

Before I get to the recipe and the conclusion of this past week, let me tell you something.  I went to a wedding yesterday and before I even realized it, I had already eaten some chicken.  This tells us that I'm not really cut out to be a vegetarian.  I had a great time this past week eating like one and I love vegetarian food, but I don't think I can resist chicken even for health reasons.  Let's just say that I did succeed in eating like a vegetarian for a week... a business week anyways.

Falafel is a very popular Mideastern food that is made out of garbanzo beans and spices.  Falafel isn't as well known as hummus so I thought it deserved an introduction.  Once cooked, the falafel look like slightly browned balls that are normally served in pita pockets with some toppings.  I love to top my falafel with hummus and sour cream. 

Makes about 20 balls

Everything but the cumin seeds which I forgot. =\

1 (19 ounce) can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
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
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons flour
vegetable oil for frying

Chopped tomato for garnish
Diced onion for garnish
Diced bell pepper for garnish
Tahina sauce
Pita bread

Step 1:

Drain the canned chickpeas and place the chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed. 

Step 2:

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. 

The finished mixture should have this consistency.  Make sure to stir it with a spatula or a spoon to pick up any of the flour and baking soda the blade missed. 

Step 3:

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. The oil has to be properly heated or the ball will fall apart. 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 sauce. Or you can top it with hummus like me...

Makes about 3 cups
(No pictures, sorry.  I was in a rush to feed my hungry and insistent family.)

2 garlic cloves, mashed and then minced
2 15-oz cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2/3 cup of tahina sauce
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt

In a food processor, combine the garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt, starting at a half a teaspoon, to taste.  Hummus is really made based on personal taste, so after following this basic recipe, add what you think will make it taste better for yourself. You can serve hummus with pita chips or pita bread, or you can eat it topped on a falafel sandwich like I did. 

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