One way that I knew I was becoming an adult was that my method of making falafel evolved past using the boxed, pre-made falafel mix produced by Manischewitz. Upon producing my first batch of from-scratch, homemade falafel, I felt something akin to what people must feel when they make their first batch of homemade chicken noodle soup or their first non-frozen, non-Stouffer’s lasagna. Heck, I felt that way when I made my first from-scratch pancakes, and pancakes are one of the simplest (and cheapest) things to produce from scratch.
Why do we rely on pre-made goods to deliver the foods we enjoy? I think it’s a combination of the following things: Over-reliance on the food experiences we are used to, fear of screwing up our favorites, and limited time, patience, energy, and equipment. Also, for years I prepared food mainly for myself and most recipes, whether it’s a pot of soup or a plate of falafel, produce too much for one person to consume in a short period of time. Short of dinner parties and potlucks, a can of soup made more sense for my lifestyle.
I cook for two (sometimes three, if our roommate is home) now, so the amount of food is no question. But I have a long commute to and from work, so when I come home to prepare dinner, fast and simple is usually the rule. One of the defining factors of my adult life is when I decided fast and simple did not have to mean pre-made or processed.
This life lesson has served me well, like on a warm spring Tuesday when I’ve promised to make dinner for my partner and I, yet I cannot fathom producing a recipe that requires more than 30 minutes to prepare, nor can I imagine loading up the stove top with pots and pans, making an already tiny and warm apartment kitchen into a blistering inferno. I’m tired, I want to cook, but more importantly, I want to eat before it’s midnight and so does my partner.
The solution? Homemade falafel, based off a recipe from the indispensable Moosewood Cookbook. Simple ingredients, fast to produce (even faster with a food processor), and a perfect meal for an evening too warm for something heavier and more complicated.
Side note: Why cheeky? Cause my falafel is a little spicier than other recipes. Reduce the cayenne, scrap the crushed red pepper, and you’ll reduce the heat significantly.
Cheeky Chickpea Falafel
– 1 15oz. can of garbanzo beans
– 2 tsp of garlic powder
– 1/4 cup chopped onions (mince if mashing by hand)
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
– 1 tsp cayenne
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 tbsp dried parsley
– 1 tsp thyme
– 1 tsp lime juice
– 2 tbsp flour
– Oil for frying
– Pita pockets (or flatbread)
– 1 tomato, sliced
– 1/2 cup onions, thinly sliced
– 1/2 cucumber, sliced
– Hummus (yes, yes, I used Trader Joe’s brand, but if you’ve got some extra chickpeas and some tahini, make your own)
– Dressing (Optional, but a tahini-based dressing really does add a whole lot of flavor. Play around with store-bought variations or make your own!)
– Rinse and drain chickpeas.
– Combine all ingredients (except flour and oil) in a food processor (or mash by hand) until batter is uniform and thick.- Stir flour into batter. Pop into freezer for 5-10 minutes. (If pressed for time, you can leave out this step, but I’ve found it helps to keep the batter compact for frying.)
– Add oil to a frying pan and set at medium heat. Test readiness with a drop of water – if it sizzles, your pan is ready to go.
– Roll tablespoons of falafel batter into semi-round disks, then add to the pan. Fry on each side for about five minutes or until golden brown.
– Place finished falafel on a paper towel-covered plate. Repeat frying process until batter is used up.