Whether you are enjoying falafel in the markets of Jerusalem or from a cart in the streets of New York, this Middle Eastern comfort food is loved throughout the world.
While it's a snack we love on the go, it can also be a surprisingly doable dish to create at home.
The root, like with a great hummus, is the right chickpeas. "Use the largest chick peas you can find, about 9 millimeters or so, because they'll soak up a lot of water, which is important to keep the falafel soft," says Efi Nahon, the top toque at Manhattan's Taboon, and then soak for 12 hours.
"Use a meat grinder set for medium grind to make the falafel; a food processor or mixer will make too smooth a dough," says Nahon. You want some coarseness, some bits and pieces. Otherwise it will harden too much when frying, says Nahon. Grind parsley, cilantro, onion, and whatever other herbs or vegetables you want in the falafel with the chickpeas. That way they are fully incorporated with the chickpeas and lend their moisture to them. Some people make falafel without any herbs or vegetables, but Nahon says they're necessary not only for flavor, but for their moistness. Without these herbs or vegetables, the chickpeas dry out too much when cooked. Nahon uses fresh jalapeno too for some heat.
Retrieve any juice coming out of the grinder from the herbs and vegetables and use to further moisten the chickpea mixture, if needed. It should feel like a soft dough, says Nahon. Add a little baking soda to the mixture to make it fluffy, and add some flour to help hold the falafel together and assure its crispiness on the outside when it's cooked. Allow the falafel to rest for an hour before frying, covered and in the refrigerator. Nahon advises making your falafel shortly before serving; it does not hold up well for very long, and it can end up getting hard and discolored.