Sunday, September 14, 2008

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Mutabbal - An Arabic Feast!

I made me some falafel!

Here's how you can do it too!

Use this crap:

1 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chicpeas) OR an equivalent amount of raw that have been soaked and cooked previously
1 onion

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1 cup bread crumbs

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 egg

2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground corriander

1 teaspoon fine ground kosher salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

dash of pepper

rice flour (for coating)

sesame seeds (for coating)

oil (for frying - I use canola)

Take your chicpeas in a bowl and mash the hell out of them with your big meatfists! Leave no chicpea unmolested! No, but seriously, get them good and mooshed up. Take a food processor and zip the onions, parsley, and garlic, adding to the mix. In a separate bowl, mix an egg, cumin, corriander, salt, oil, lime juice, cayenne, and pepper, and stir until its a uniform goop. Add to main bowl and stir. It's going to be slick and sticky, so add a cup of breadcrumbs bit by bit. You may use more or less than a cup, the important thing is that your mix should be as dry as it can manage but still hold together.

Now in a separate small dish, pour some rice flour and sesame seeds, and spread them around.

You should have a mess that looks like this:

Take little balls of dough about the size of a golf ball, flatten them slightly and press them into the rice flour and sesame seed mix before you lay them on a cookie sheet or whatever. Once all the balls are formed and dusted, put the tray or sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes so they can cool and set a bit.

While you're doing that, prepare your frying implement. I prefer to pan fry in a cast iron skillet, but you can do as you wish. Once your oil gets good and hot, drop those babies in!

It'll take a bit to get a good cooking, so be patient. Check the sides occasionally, flip when you must, and drink a beer. Relax.

Eventually they will be done. If you have a cooling rack, I highly recommend you use it to put these on. It'll drain excess oil and make it taste so much better. When you put the falafel patties on the rack, try adding a little pinch of finely ground kosher salt to each one. It makes it taste absolutely divine!

Now, I also made some tzatziki for this, which was pretty easy too. Here's what you'll want:

1 cup regular plain yogurt (don't buy that low fat crap )
2 teaspoons dill weed
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon tahini

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Take the cucumber and run it through the food processor. Should end up with something akin to applesauce. Strain as much water as you can from this slop, and add it to a cup of yogurt. Add in dill weed, salt, pepper, and tahini. Stir.

Easy, huh?

I also made mutabbal, which is a dip that is very similar to baba ghannouj, if you've had that. I've heard some people call baba ghannouj mutabbal, and mutabbal baba ghannouj. The way it's been explained to me is that mutabbal generally has more tahini, but I've seen baba ghannouj recipes with as much as I used, so who knows.

I started eating this about a year ago, when a local shop near my work had opened up. They had great hommous, but I always kept coming back for this. It's got a very rich, smoky flavor, and goes great with pita or any flatbread.

Here's what you need:

Eggplants! (3 medium-ish ones or 2 large ones)
Tahini - 3 tablespoons
Juice from one lime
Tablespoon of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 chili pepper, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Wood chips (for smoking on a grill)

First off, grill your eggplants. If you have a gas or charcoal grill, do what you can do get it ready to grill on a low/medium heat. Once that's done, take two handfuls of wood chips and put them in a pouch made from aluminum foil. Poke holes in that pouch so that smoke can get out. When you're ready, put that over the coals or element or whatnot, and then put your eggplants on.

I used hickory chips because thats what I had, and I love hickory smoke. Consider this arabic food with a southern accent ;)

Cover that and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until your eggplants get a general level of prunage. They'll start to look very wrinkly. Check back every 10 or so minutes and flip when necessary. Expect the skin to crack, tear, and maybe burn a little. That's okay.

When you're done, they should look something like this:

Now, let them cool for a good 25 minutes or more, and get a bowl or dish or something. Cut the eggplant heads off and then gently squeeze the lovecraftian nightmare that is the eggplants gross-looking innards into that bowl. Eeeewwww!

This picture does no justice, it looked like a monster I was scared.

Take this abomination and put it into a collander, giving a good press to get as much moisture out as possible before returning to your bowl.

Combine the other ingredients into a separate bowl and stir until its a uniform slop, then pour that into the other bowl. The picture above shows that bowl to the right. I'm sure you figured that out already.

From here, it's up to you. If you like traditional mutabbal, you can mash apart the ghastly pulp until its a good stringy mush. This results in a good and chunky dip.

I myself prefer it the way I was introduced to it, which is more of a refined dip. To that end, I used a blender on the mix setting to get a more uniform consistency, without it being runny. As with most dips from the Levant, it's usually dressed up with olive oil drizzled on top and some other garnish. For mine, I added pine nuts and a little dash of cumin.

Here's the final result, served with the aforementioned very very delicious falafel & tzatziki in an italian herb flatbread with a Dos Equis & lime.

Dos Equis and lime, you may gnash your teeth at me, and ask how I dare to defile the authenticity of this meal. To that, I say eat me, because this beer is delicious and I've been drinking it all day when I was grilling!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this recipe for falafels. It was moist and tasty. I usually get a dry mix from the natural foods store and your recipe is far superior. I added extra garlic cuz that's what we like here.
Have you tried baking the falafel balls instead of frying?