24 May 2011

This is another one of my meatless main dishes.  Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish that consists of fried balls or patties made of ground chickpeas.  You might remember it being mentioned in the move Slumdog Millionaire, as it is popular street food in that part of the world.  It also makes a wonderful meatless main!

Traditional falafel is deep-fried, but that's one thing I don't do, so I just pan fry mine.  You can also bake them, but I haven't tried that yet.  Here's how I make mine.

Falafel Pita Sandwiches

2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans, drained
½ small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ cup flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
Pita pockets
Fresh spinach

Put beans in a medium sized bowl and mash with a fork (or pulse in food processor).  Add onion, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, and flour and mix well.

Form into small balls, about 1½” in diameter and slightly flatten. 

Heat oil in large skillet.  Fry falafel a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Stuff in pita pockets with hummus and spinach.

Makes 4 servings.

This is really good.  You can make your own hummus, of course, but I don't have a full-sized food processor and my mini chopper can only do so much that it's easier for me just to buy it at the store.  And Meijer had it on sale buy one get one free yesterday! :)  It may seem weird to serve chickpea balls with a chickpea puree, but the flavors and consistencies are so different that it totally works.

Kids love this dish.  It's so fun for them to stuff the little balls inside the pita.  And my daughter loves the spinach, which she calls "leaves".  This is definitely one of Jim's favorites in our meatless mains rotation.

As an alternative to serving these as listed above, I have also thought of making them into large patties and serving them on hamburger buns, kind of like a "falafel burger". 

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