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Chef Eric Ripert teaches us how to make vegetables the star of the plate.
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. 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.
ounces dried chickpeas
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
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