When I became a vegetarian when I was 15, my mom made a lot of falafel – it was something she already had in her repertoire. This version is not hers, but one I picked up from the new Joy of Cooking and have modified a little bit. I like that it doesn’t require an egg as binder, as many falafel recipes that call for cooked chickpeas do. This is vegan if the yogurt-cucumber sauce is omitted. Don’t be afraid of the seemingly raw chickpeas – if you soak them for a good long time (this is not a recipe for which you want to employ the quick soak method), make thin patties, and cook them thoroughly, it’s not hard on the digestive tract. This recipe serves 4 generously.
Preheat the oven to 350. Sort and soak, the longer the better, up to 2 days:
1 1/4 c. dried chickpeas
Place the following in a food processor:
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 c. fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. salt
1 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground red pepper or red pepper flakes
Process until the mixture is coarsely pureed. Remove to a bowl and stir in:
2 t. flour (you could use chickpea flour, besan, if you have it around)
Form the mixture into patties about 3 in. wide and 1/2 an inch thick. Shallow-fry in about 1/2 in. of vegetable oil, or deep-fry over slightly higher than medium heat until golden brown. The center of the patties may stay a little green. That’s okay.
Wrap 4 pita breads in foil and warm in the oven for about ten minutes. Cut the pitas in half and fill with a couple falafel patties, the two sauces, sliced tomatoes and sprouts.