Thursday, June 23, 2011

Falafel Burgers

Falafel is one of those things that is easy to mess up because, like everything, there's a multitude of recipe variations out there. Some claiming to be authentic, and others elevating the humble falafel to some other heights. I went with what I could find as a more authentic recipe, wrapped in a more modern package.

The actual process for making falafel is actually pretty easy. You use the food processor for the whole thing. Then whether you choose to bake or fry them, those are the only dishes necessary.

I decided to do both baked and fried versions to experiment. I just chose the "burger" model because it can accommodate both methods and it looked good.

Falafel Burgers (adapted from here, baking idea from here)

2 cups dried garbanzo beans
1 1/2 cup frozen edamame 
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh parsley
8 garlic cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tbs coriander, toasted seeds, ground
1 tsp cumin, toasted seeds, ground
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 large onion
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Tahini Sauce:
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 teaspoons tahini
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Cucumber Sauce:
1/2 a cucumber, minced or grated finely

1/2 cup yogurt
salt and pepper to taste


So, I was really unsure if this recipe would work or not as I forgot to soak the garbanzo beans overnight. I tossed them into water in the morning and hoped for the best. I didn't get a pic, but just cover the beans with 2 inches of water. I made the whole bag and it was WAY MORE than enough for this recipe as the beans double in size. Oops.

Anyway, because I was waiting for the beans to hydrate all day I kind of made this recipe backwards. It didn't make any difference, since everything all goes into the same mix anyway.

I began with the onion and garlic.

Just peel the garlic and toss it in. Give it a few pulses.

Roughly chope the onion and toss it in. More pulses.

Add the parsley and cilantro. Just eyeball the amounts. A cup of cilantro is generally a whole bunch. Chop off the stems if you don't like them and use the leaves. 

Buzz, buz, buzz
A lot of recipes call for the addition of fava beans to the chickpeas. I didn't have any/couldn't find any, so I used some frozen edamame. I've made falafel with JUST edamame and peas before and it was pretty good, so this works well.

I only had a cup of edamame, so I add some peas to even out the recipe.

Now we add some spices.

If you don't have a spice grinder, go on Amazon and get one for $12. Use it for spices only and you'll be happy you did. Freshly toasted and ground seeds are FAR superior to the standard ground spices. Try it and you'll be convinced.

So, with that, we add a teaspoon of cumin seeds to a preheated pan. 

Shake the pan and smell for doneness. As soon as you smell the "toasty" smell, get it off the heat and into a bowl or something. Don't burn your seeds!

Do the same for some coriander seeds.

Toasty spices
 Grind them along with your cardamom. I actually harvested mine from pods that I have. 

Add the spices along with the pepper and salt. 

Add the mixture to a big bowl and prepare the beans. 

After 8 hours, my beans swelled big time. I could squeeze the beans and crush them, so I took that as the sign that they were done.

You only need 2 cups for this, so add that to the food processor.

Let it spin until it's the consistency of breadcrumbs. Took me about a minute.

Add the beans to the greens.

Mix well to combine.

Add your Panko.

Add your flour, baking powder and soda. The addition of the powder/soda adds to the fluffiness of the end product. It worked really well for me.

Let this sit for a few minutes for the flour to hydrate and for the baking soda/powder to do their thing.

I started with the baked method. Get a silpat or something and place 1/3 cup of the falafel on it and press it down carefully into a burger shape.

I got 6 on my sheet pan.

Pop it into a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. You'll flip and cook for 10-15 more on the other side. 

While those bake, I went the more traditional route and fried the rest. 

I cut quenelles with two spoons.

Bam. Quenelle.

Pop them into 350 degree oil in a small pan. Cook the first side for about a minute. Check the color. I like mine *almost* burned for the crunch against the creamy insides. So you want to keep an eye on them. I found the flipside took a little longer to get the same color. About 2 minutes give or take. 

I flipped them using a slotted spoon, as they are pretty fragile. 

Push up to the edge


Remove them from the oil when done and drain on paper towels. 

After the 20 minutes, flip the burgers and cook for 10-15 more. 

Build the burgers with some sauce on each side of the bun. My buns were pretty big, so I'd get smaller ones next time or use more falafel. The sauce was awesome though.

I didn't get pics of making the sauces, but you just combine the ingredients and mix. Not rocket science.

I used that tahini on mine and my wife had the cucumber sauce. 

Add lettuce, tomatoes and onions. (I somehow forgot the onions, dur)

Pile on 3 falafel and top with Sriracha (if you want). I thought it was an awesome addition. 

You can use either the baked patty or traditional shapes. Double them up too. Get nuts. I thought it was a really good sandwich and was more than pleased with the falafel recipe. I'll make this again for salads or something. 

Also, I didn't have a problem with the baked version. It wasn't as crunchy, but was still crunchy on the outside, so go for that method to save some frying.


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