I’ve been cooking a lot these days (pat on the back)…but every once in a while, things can go horribly wrong. My first stab at making falafel — or Failafel, as coined by Christina from the writing class I spoke at last night — was one of those times. As I began to realize that it wasn’t going so well, I almost stopped taking pictures, deeming it now useless for my blog. But I think it’s part of learning…and also a chance to pay further homage to the pure awesomeness of our mothers who could work that kitchen as if they never burnt toast in their life…and probably haven’t.
We’re not worthy.
My mom might as well watch some of my cooking trials as if she’s watching a comedy. BUT this story has a happy ending at least…
SO. I found this falafel recipe in a cookbook that seemed super easy. I got all the ingredients and began chopping. Until I realized skimming the recipe four times doesn’t equal one thorough read — halfway through I realized I needed a food processor (amateur mistake #1).
Seeing there was no way I could improvise with my paltry kitchen tools, I started scanning my brain on where I could get one. I called a friend who lived near by, and she didn’t have one either. I knocked on the door across my apartment and no answer. And let me just say right now, my apartment floor is one of those where other people might as well not exist. I’ve NEVER seen any of our neighbors, so I decided I just had to set out and buy a new one. I literally walked out my door, and (cue angels) a girl I’ve never seen before is walking back to her apartment, a door away from mine.
“Hey! Random question. Do you own a food processor by any chance?”
“I do! Come right in.” Turns out she moved in just last week. I decided at that point God really wanted me to make these falafels. I returned to my apartment triumphant. I was following the recipe exactly and everything seemed to be going just as planned so far.
My borrowed food processor
I scooped out the blended mix and began making them in tiny balls. The recipe called to fry them in four inches of oil, but I thought that seemed a little too much, so I tried with only an inch to begin with. I heated the oil in a frying pan and dropped in six falafel balls.
Everything was going great…until I realized one of the balls went missing. Then two…then three…they were disintegrating in the oil! I tried draining some of the oil, but it was already too late. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I decided to try baking them. I made ten more balls and stuck it in the oven, which seemed to work better…but then the outside started to get too brown and the inside wasn’t baking thoroughly. I ended up with this:
Falafel mush, which basically looks like what the balls should have looked like…but in…umm…ball form? I was just about to give up and default to a frozen dinner until I tasted the mush and truth was, I still thought it tasted good. And the worst thing to me ever is to waste food, so this is the part I decided to take a “lemon and make lemon juice” as they say (oh God, I really am turning into my mom). I decided to make it a falafel spread.
I had these Arnold sandwich thins (the Fill ‘Ems, which I think everyone should have in their kitchen…they’re 100% whole wheat and so much healthier, only 100 calories each). I toasted them and spread the failafel in them.
I then chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley and added them to yogurt and added that over the spread.
The combination of the warm, flavorful falafel and the cooling yogurt ended up being phenomenal. My roomie was so full from dinner and said she would just have a bite…ten minutes later she said “I think you have to make your own, I’m finishing this one.” Success.
My improvised falafel sandwich
After the whole fiasco, I tried looking online to see if anyone else had the same issues, and found a lot of people complaining about the same thing with their falafels melting in oil. It was weird though, because I followed the recipe exactly. I called my mom later to tell her about my failafel. “Oh. You just had to add bread crumbs to the recipe,” she said.
How do they know?? My roommate’s mom also said egg is a good addition. I found this recipe online that is very similar to the one I used, but with flour and baking soda. I’m assuming those added ingredients stabilizes the mixture, so I would go with that if you want real falafels, and not my improvised version.
In case you do though:
2 cups dried chickpeas
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 1/2 tbs kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Put the chickpeas in large bowl, add water to cover by about 2 inches and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next morning, drain the chickpeas and toss them in a bowl with the onion and garlic. Run the mixture through the medium blade of a meat grinder. Toss the chickpea mixture with the parsley, cilantro, mint, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander and run through the grinder again.
3. Heat 4 inches of oil in to 350 degrees in a large pot over medium heat. Using a tablespoon, shape the falafel mixture into balls and fry, adjusting the heat as necessary, until browned, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels [Note, this is where I just baked the mixture instead of frying].