Sunday, June 30, 2013

Yotam Ottolenghi's Falafel with Spiced Chickpeas and Fresh Vegetable Salad

Falafel is one of the first things I wanted to make when I first opened up my copy of Jersualem.  Those little fried balls made from dried chickpeas and various spices were beckoning me like crazy.  As much as I dreamt about eating hot crunchy falafel sandwiched in a warm pita I was feeling rather unmotivated for the hours of cooking and cleanup the recipe required.

 Last week I gave myself the necessary pep talk to work my way through the recipe, little by little.  I soaked the chickpeas one night, made the spiced chickpea and veggie salad the next day, and then mixed and fried the falafel on the third day.  It was a long process with endless chopping, mixing, and washing dishes BUT the final product was in fact everything I hoped it would be!  The falafel were delicious on their own.  I also enjoyed them with a warm drizzle of tahini and the spiced chickpea and veggie salad on the side.  Other times I loaded the falafel, tahini, and salad into a warm pita and enjoyed it that way. 

A few quick notes about both recipes.  The directions for the falafel say to use either a meat grinder or a food processor and mix until the falafel mixture is finely chopped but not mushy or pasty.  Pay special attention that the falafel mixture actually holds together.  The falafel balls are hard to shape and don't really hold their shape well unless you achieve the right consistency.  Also, regarding the salad, you may want to go heavier on the chickpeas.  The recipe calls for 1/2 cup dried chickpeas. The chickpeas in the veggie salad were pretty much nonexistent.  I would actually increase the chickpeas to at least 1 full cup. I think the key is to actually detect the chickpeas in the salad. Other than that, both recipes are perfectly delicious and worth the time and cleanup involved.  I'd definitely recommend them both!

Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Serves 4

1-1/4 cups dried chickpeas
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons water
1-1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
about 3 cups canola/sunflower oil, for deep-frying
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, for coating

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume.  Set aside to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas well and combine them with the onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro.  For the best results, use a meat grinder for the next part.  Put the chickpea mixture once through the machine, set to its finest setting, then pass it through the machine for a second time.  If you don't have a meat grinder, use a food processor.  Blitz the mix in batches, pulsing each for 30 to 40 seconds, until it is finely chopped, but not mushy or pasty, and holds itself together.  Once processed, add the spices, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, flour, and water.  Mix well by hand until smooth and uniform.  Cover the mixture and leave it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or until ready to use

Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with enough oil to come 2-3/4 inches up the sides of the pan.  Heat the oil to 350F.  

With wet hands, press 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of your hand to form a patty or a ball the size of a small walnut, about a scant 1 ounce (you can also use a wet ice-cream scoop for this).

Sprinkle the balls evenly with sesame seeds and deep-fry them in batches for 4 minutes, until well browned and cooked through.  It is important they really dry out on the inside, so make sure they get enough time in the oil.  Drain in a colander lined with paper towels and serve at once. 


Spiced Chickpea & Fresh Vegetable Salad
Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Serves 6-8

1/2 cup dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 small cucumbers (10 oz/250g total)
2 large tomatoes (10.5oz/300g total)
8-1/2 ounces/240g radishes
1 red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1 small red onion, peeled
2/3 oz/20g cilantro leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
1/2 ounce/15g flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons juice
1-1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Greek yogurt (optional)
salt and black pepper

Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in a large bowl with plenty of cold water and the baking soda.  The next day, drain, place in a large saucepan, and cover with water twice the volume of the chickpeas.  Bring to a boil and simmer, skimming off any foam, for about an hour, until completely tender, then drain.

Cut the cucumber, tomato, radish, and pepper into 2/3-inch dice; cut the onion into 1/4-inch dice. Mix everything together in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley.

In a jar or sealable container, mix 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, and sugar and mix well to form a dressing, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly.  (Take care when dressing the salad.  I found I only needed about half of the dressing).

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and spread on a plate.  Toss the cooked chickpeas in the spice mixture in a few batches to coat well.  Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly fry the chickpeas for 2 to 3 minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don't stick.  Keep warm. 

Serve this salad on a plate, in a large circle with the warm spiced chickpeas on top.  You can drizzle some Greek yogurt on top to make the salad creamy.  You can also serve this salad with falafel.

Theme: Got A Pulse?


  1. I'm laughing over here because, as usual, we're on the same wavelength. Only you followed through. Falafel is something I picked from the start, but I couldn't bring myself to commit to the work! I'm glad it was worth it. Must have been on rockin' pep talk! I love that you've made an entire meal of chickpeas.

  2. I definitely get in moods where I really want to tackle a more hands on recipe and this sounds totally like my kind of meal! I've been meaning to try my hand at real (fried) falafel at home..and who else to trust but the master himself!

  3. Sounded like a labor of love Kim. I have to admit I've never tasted falafel, but I sure could gobble up that salad.

  4. Wow, you did great Kim! I must admit, recipes like this really depends on the mood! Sometimes I love challenging recipes like this, other times, I would just skip it to "next time"! Both the falafel and the salad looks really good! Thumbs up for such a delicious meal after all the extra work involved! I took the lazy way out for making hummus, with canned chick peas! (and I have some dried chickpeas around, yikes!) :)

  5. Both falafel and salad look gorgeous but I'm definitely eyeing the former - they've been on my bucket list for a while and keep getting bumped in favour of something easier. But I do still have part of that 1 kilo stash of chickpeas to work my way through.....

    PS Thank you for adding me to the hummus roundup.

  6. What a wonderful meal,Kim!Both dishes look amazing! What a wonderful summer meal!

  7. What a wonderful meal,Kim! Both dishes looks amazing!

  8. I've been wanting to make this for ages too and, yes, somehow I never get around to soaking the chickpeas the day before the right day for having the time to make them. Must admit I've also been a bit nervous about getting that texture right, as I have had "falafel fail" in the past. Now you've really inspired me to try these. Graham is away in Munich at the moment and was telling me in an email last night about a "secret falafel cafe" he went to yesterday. He loved it (even though he never normally eats falafel at home), so I'm going to try these when he gets back.

  9. Oh I do want to make these :) Love falafel such little bites of deliciousness & perfect with that salad.

  10. I loooooove, though I haven't had it in ages! I really want to make it again soon (or at least it it again soon). And the chickpea salad sounds so fresh and delicious, too.

  11. I've been meaning to try this! It's been while since I had falafel. They look so insanely good tomorrow may be the day. Love the idea of a chickpea salad to go with them. Thanks for all the tips Kim! Hope you're having a good summer!

  12. I love falafel and frequently order it for lunch or dinner but I am way too lazy to commit to making it myself so I admire you for that! It certainly looks delicious and well worth it. ;-)

  13. i made these today, very fresh tasting, the cardamom is a lovely addition. I found the texture to be a bit strange, but maybe i'm too used to the westernised version? Usually involving bread i guess. These were very firm to bite. Also very tough to get to stick together. but that's irrelevant. did i do them right? Maybe i should've blended them more...i didn't have a grinder

    1. Sorry to hear that you struggled with these. They can be a bit fickle. Maybe a bit more blending and/or a touch of oil or water? Sometimes when I have trouble getting things to form I wet my hands to help bring it together.

  14. Hi, when I put these into hot oil they completely fell apart!!! Any suggestions?

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