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Crisp, freshly fried falafel are perfect wrapped in tender pita bread.
Milk Street Bowtie Falafel

Falafel

Appears in July-August 2022

2 hours 50 minutes active, plus soaking

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Falafel

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Across Amman, Jordan, we tasted numerous versions of falafel and concluded that perfection entails a combination of three things: a crisp, beautifully burnished crust without any greasiness; an interior that has a light and tender texture; and bold but well-balanced seasonings that complement the earthiness of the chickpeas. To develop our own recipe, we borrowed techniques from home cooks as well as professionals who taught us their methods and formulas, but we also came up with a few tricks of our own. Namely, we add both salt and baking soda to the water for soaking the dried chickpeas to help tenderize both the interiors and exteriors of the legumes. For varied texture in the processed chickpea mixture, we finely grind half in the food processor before tossing in the remainder and pulsing only until the second addition is finely nubby. This results in fried falafel that hold together but have crisp, lacy exteriors. Additional baking soda plus baking powder provides leavening, yielding falafel that are practically airy. Parsley and cilantro bring fresh herbal flavor, and baharat, an all-purpose Middle Eastern seasoning blend, lends complex spiciness. Baharat can be purchased at larger supermarkets, or use our recipe to make your own (see recipe p. xxx). To form the falafel and drop them into the oil, you will need a 1¾-inch (2-tablespoon) spring-loaded ice cream/dough scoop. Our favorite way to eat falafel is to stuff them into fresh pita bread along with slices of ripe tomato, cucumber and onion, then drizzle on lemony tahini sauce.

Makes about 25

Falafel

Tip

Don’t try to shortcut the soaking time for the chickpeas. They require at least 12 hours at room temperature to soften properly. After processing the chickpeas with the other ingredients, be sure to chill the mixture for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours; this helps ensure the falafel hold together during frying. When adding portions of the mixture into the hot oil for frying, hold the scoop just above the surface of the oil to avoid splashing. Finally, don’t overcrowd the pot during frying, which will result in greasy falafel.

2 hours

50 minutes active, plus soaking

12 ounces dried chickpeas
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 teaspoons baking soda, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon baharat (see headnote)
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped (about 1¼ cups)
1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems roughly chopped (about 1¼ cups)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6-8 cups grapeseed or other neutral oil
Tahini-yogurt sauce
Warm pita bread, to serve
Thin tomato wedges, to serve
Ingredients
  • 12

    ounces dried chickpeas

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    teaspoons baking soda, divided

  • 2

    teaspoons baking powder

  • 1

    tablespoon baharat (see headnote)

  • 1

    bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped (about 1¼ cups)

  • 1

    bunch cilantro, leaves and stems roughly chopped (about 1¼ cups)

  • 2

    tablespoons lemon juice

  • 6-8

    cups grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • Warm pita bread, to serve

  • Thin tomato wedges, to serve

Baharat Chickpea

Recipe

Baharat

Directions
  1. 01
    In a large bowl, stir together the chickpeas, 8 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon of the baking soda. Let soak at room temperature for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours.
    See Demo
    Falafel step1
  2. 02
    Drain the chickpeas in a colander, rinse them and drain again. In a food processor, combine half of the chickpeas (about 2 cups), 2½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon of the remaining baking soda, the baking powder, baharat and 1 teaspoon pepper. Process, scraping the bowl as needed, until the mixture is roughly chopped, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup water and continue to process until the mixture is mostly smooth, scraping the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes.
    See Demo
    Falafel step2
  3. 03
    Add the remaining chickpeas, parsley and cilantro. Pulse, occasionally scraping the bowl, until the mixture resembles very coarse sand; this will require about 60 pulses. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
    See Demo
    Falafel step4
  4. 04
    When you are ready to fry the falafel, set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Into a large (7- to 8-quart) Dutch oven over medium-high, add oil to a depth of about 1½ inches and heat to 325°F. When the oil is nearly to temperature, remove the chickpea mixture from the refrigerator. Add the lemon juice and remaining ½ teaspoon baking soda to the chickpea mixture; stir until well combined.
    See Demo
    Falafel step5
  5. 05
    When the oil reaches 325°F, use a 1¾-inch (2-tablespoon) spring-loaded scoop to scoop up a portion of the chickpea mixture, lightly compacting the mixture into it against the side of the bowl. Holding the scoop just above the surface of the oil to prevent splashing, carefully release the portion into the oil. Working quickly, scoop an additional 8 or so portions into the pot. Fry, occasionally rotating the falafel, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes; adjust the heat as needed to maintain an oil temperature of 300°F to 325°F.
    See Demo
    Falafel step7
  6. 06
    Using a slotted spoon, transfer the falafel to the prepared rack. Cook the remaining chickpea mixture in the same way, stirring the mixture as needed to reincorporate any liquid that separates out and allowing the oil to come back up to temperature before adding subsequent batches.
    See Demo
    Falafel step8
  7. 07
    Serve the falafel with the tahini-yogurt sauce, pita and tomatoes.
    See Demo
    Falafel 2
Tip: Don’t try to shortcut the soaking time for the chickpeas. They require at least 12 hours at room temperature to soften properly. After processing the chickpeas with the other ingredients, be sure to chill the mixture for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours; this helps ensure the falafel hold together during frying. When adding portions of the mixture into the hot oil for frying, hold the scoop just above the surface of the oil to avoid splashing. Finally, don’t overcrowd the pot during frying, which will result in greasy falafel.
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Falafel

Get Ready to Cook

Makes about 25

Falafel

2 hours

50 minutes active, plus soaking

Tip

Don’t try to shortcut the soaking time for the chickpeas. They require at least 12 hours at room temperature to soften properly. After processing the chickpeas with the other ingredients, be sure to chill the mixture for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours; this helps ensure the falafel hold together during frying. When adding portions of the mixture into the hot oil for frying, hold the scoop just above the surface of the oil to avoid splashing. Finally, don’t overcrowd the pot during frying, which will result in greasy falafel.

Ingredients
  • 12

    ounces dried chickpeas

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    teaspoons baking soda, divided

  • 2

    teaspoons baking powder

  • 1

    tablespoon baharat (see headnote)

  • 1

    bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped (about 1¼ cups)

  • 1

    bunch cilantro, leaves and stems roughly chopped (about 1¼ cups)

  • 2

    tablespoons lemon juice

  • 6-8

    cups grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • Warm pita bread, to serve

  • Thin tomato wedges, to serve

Baharat Chickpea

Recipe

Baharat

Step 1 of 7

Prepare the Chickpeas

12
ounces dried chickpeas
8
cups water
1
tablespoon salt
1
teaspoons baking soda

In a large bowl, stir together the chickpeas, 8 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon of the baking soda. Let soak at room temperature for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours.

Step 2 of 7

Process Half of the Chickpeas

teaspoons salt
½
teaspoons baking soda, divided
2
teaspoons baking powder
1
tablespoon baharat (see headnote)
1
teaspoon pepper
1
cup water

Drain the chickpeas in a colander, rinse them and drain again. In a food processor, combine half of the chickpeas (about 2 cups), 2½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon of the remaining baking soda, the baking powder, baharat and 1 teaspoon pepper. Process, scraping the bowl as needed, until the mixture is roughly chopped, about 1 minute.


Add 1 cup water and continue to process until the mixture is mostly smooth, scraping the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes.

Step 3 of 7

Process the Remaining Chickpeas

1
bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped (about 1¼ cups)
1
bunch cilantro, leaves and stems roughly chopped (about 1¼ cups)

Add the remaining chickpeas, parsley and cilantro. Pulse, occasionally scraping the bowl, until the mixture resembles very coarse sand; this will require about 60 pulses. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

Step 4 of 7

Finish the Chickpea Mixture

6-8
cups grapeseed or other neutral oil
2
tablespoons lemon juice
½
teaspoons baking soda

When you are ready to fry the falafel, set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Into a large (7- to 8-quart) Dutch oven over medium-high, add oil to a depth of about 1½ inches and heat to 325°F. When the oil is nearly to temperature, remove the chickpea mixture from the refrigerator. Add the lemon juice and remaining ½ teaspoon baking soda to the chickpea mixture; stir until well combined.

Step 5 of 7

Fry the Chickpea Mixture

When the oil reaches 325°F, use a 1¾-inch (2-tablespoon) spring-loaded scoop to scoop up a portion of the chickpea mixture, lightly compacting the mixture into it against the side of the bowl. Holding the scoop just above the surface of the oil to prevent splashing, carefully release the portion into the oil. Working quickly, scoop an additional 8 or so portions into the pot.


Fry, occasionally rotating the falafel, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes; adjust the heat as needed to maintain an oil temperature of 300°F to 325°F.

Step 6 of 7

Cook the Remaining Chickpea Mixture

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the falafel to the prepared rack. Cook the remaining chickpea mixture in the same way, stirring the mixture as needed to reincorporate any liquid that separates out and allowing the oil to come back up to temperature before adding subsequent batches.

Step 7 of 7

Finish and Serve

Tahini-yogurt sauce
Warm pita bread, to serve
Thin tomato wedges, to serve

Serve the falafel with the tahini-yogurt sauce, pita and tomatoes.

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