Adri answers the question: “What’s the fuss all about?”
Before sharing the recipe I would like to start with a little ‘falafel talk’. [Adri pronounces the word like “falafél.”] Look at it as a food-flirting, a recipe-for-play, emotionally charging your taste buds before the bang.
So… Falafel! What’s the fuss all about? In my effort to convey to you the “falafel experience” I went to Google for assistance. I found definitions like “Falafel is a spiced deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans.” Some even described it as a sort of croquette or a vegetarian meatball. I thought to myself: “Falafel? – a vegetarian meatball! Is that what falafel is?” These definitions do not seem to relate to my experience; although, technically they sound right.
Like hummus, falafel is one of those myths that one hears about so much that when finally it’s time to give it a taste, the common reaction is… first silence, a lingering wait for a last minute’s surprise, followed by a frown and a statement like: “Is that it?”, “I do not get it!” or “What’s the fuss all about?” and the poor falafel is then categorized as a vegetarian meatball or a kind of croquette. If this was your experience I would venture to say that you did not really get to experience the “real deal”.
However, if you are among the fortunate who had the pleasure of experiencing an authentic fresh-hot falafel, you probably said something like: “Eureka!” or “I have found it!”, OMG (o my god) or Wow-weeeee! And this “Weee!” would have come after you burnt your tongue and the inner walls of your mouth as you tried to toss this hot grainy brown ball in your mouth from side to side while the heat of the spices rushed through your mouth. And, in reaction, you found yourself gasping for cooling air while flapping your hands over your mouth like a chicken trying uselessly to fan in some fresh air. Your eyes would be wide-open, bright and sparkling and as soon as the heat subsided you started to relax, a smile of satisfaction spread across your face while already thinking about consuming the next brown ball.
Now there is more than one way to eat falafel. In Israel, it comes inside a pita or as a side dish. If you want it in a pita you would ask for a “pita-falafel”. That is a pita pocket filled to the rim with hummus, falafels, French fries, salad and pickles topped with a runny tahini dressing. It’s the Middle East version of fast food burgers or the Greek gyro. In the pita-falafel the texture and flavour of the falafel mix and blend with all. If it is a good falafel joint that respects itself, they would offer you a free falafel ball to taste while you wait inline. Kind of like a bait – if it’s a good falafel…you will wait!
The other way to eat falafel is as a side dish, usually complementing various side dishes such as hummus and babaganush. Then you would get about 5-8 balls on a plate and use them to scoop the hummus as you would with a pita. This way you get a better chance of tasting it directly.
Both ways are good…it all depends on the situation or the mood. But in both the quality of the falafel is a deal-maker or deal-breaker.
So now, if you are either curious to know what the fuss is all about or you already know it but cannot find the good stuff… I offer this Falafel recipe. It is not like the famous Yamani rinki-dinck falafel joint in Jerusalem or some of the well-known joints in Jaffa, but in my opinion it’s pretty close to the real deal. I would even say, it is the real deal, and…I know of few places that have better. So, while I keep experimenting and perfecting, I do hope you will enjoy… remember eat them fresh-hot!
Adri for Osho News