falafel pitas

I think the first time I was introduced to falafel was at Pita Pit - they heat theirs up on the grill, chop them up and then top with all kinds of stuff.  I always enjoyed their falafel pita, and it was a staple when I lived near the university and there was a Pita Pit on the ground floor of my building. 

I've been eyeing up this falafel recipe for a while now and was happy that I finally got around to making it.  And you know what?  It was waaaay better than the stuff at Pita Pit.  The hint of cinnamon combined with the garlic and cumin was so good and it had lots of fresh herbs, which, funnily enough, made it green.  We don't often deep fry at home because it's a bit of a pain, but it was worth it for the crunchy, golden brown crusts on these falafel.  Combined with the fresh veggies and creamy, tangy tzatziki, this was an excellent sandwich.  I'll definitely be making these again.  

Falafel

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked in water overnight
  • 5 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • vegetable oil for frying

For this recipe it's very important to use soaked dried chickpeas, rather than canned chickpeas.  Canned chickpeas have too much moisture in them, and would result in soggy, gummy falafel.

Drain the chickpeas from the soaking liquid.  Add all of the ingredients (except the oil) to the bowl of the food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Scrape up the falafel in heaping tablespoon amounts (or use a cookie scoop, like I did) and form into flattened disks, about 1/2" thick and arrange on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  You can make these ahead and refrigerate for a few hours if you want.

Heat about 1" of vegetable oil in a cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Use a candy thermometer to monitor the heat and preheat to 375 F.  Fry several falafel at once (single-layer only).  Watch the oil temperature carefully, you might have to turn the heat up initially, then turn it down again.  Turn the falafel if the oil doesn't cover the falafel completely.  Cook until deep, golden brown - about 5 minutes total.  Remove and allow to drain on a plate covered with paper towel, then fry up the next batch.

Serve the falafel immediately on pita bread with tzatziki, lettuce and tomato.  Leftover falafel warm-up nicely in the microwave or in the oven.

Recipe adapted from More Best Recipes by Cooks' Illustrated.