Roz’s (and Jocelyn’s Mom’s) Falafel

For Lynne, who asked if you can replace the raw chickpeas with canned in my falafel recipe, I am posting this alternative recipe that uses cooked chickpeas and bread and egg as binders.

This recipe comes from Roz McQuade, who was a friend of my mother’s when we lived in York, Maine. My mom met Roz, who was a speech therapist, at an American Association of University Women meeting in York. She says that Roz came up to her and said, “I want to be your friend.” They lived down the road from us, “more toward the country,” my mom reports, in an old house that had a fireplace that was shared between the dining room and the kitchen. She grew up in California, and my mother says that the last she heard, Roz and her husband Bob were living in San Luis Obispo. They had two children, Lena and Todd, who were both a year so younger than Brian and I. Roz also gave my mother a chick-pea curry recipe that was another one of the staples of my early years as a vegetarian.

My mother recounted that she once made this falafel for an office potluck when she worked at BTG a few years ago. She said that she had to leave the potluck for another meeting, but she was supplied by one of her coworkers with a blow-by-blow of what happened after she left. Apparently people were a little afraid of the falafel. Someone asked, “Is it from a mix?” and someone else said, “No, I think it’s homemade – it’s got bits of stuff in it.” I think it all got eaten.

The original recipe that Roz wrote down for my mom has been partially destroyed by kitchen spills, so I am not able to recount it verbatim. However, I’ll give you some quotes from Roz that are still legible.

“A vegetarian meal served in pita bread with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and yogurt and mint, olives, or yogurt, plain. Yields 20.” Mom says hers makes about a dozen, which serves 4. She makes this with two cans, doubling the other ingredients, to feed a crowd.

2 c. of cooked garbanzo beans or 1 1b. 4 oz. can Progresso (Mom: you can’t find this can size any longer but she uses 1 -15 oz. can and it works fine with the seasonings as written.)
1 slice bread, crumbled finely (Mom: coarse bread is best)
1 T. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T. chopped parsley
3/4 t. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 t. turmeric
1/4 t. basil
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1 T. tahini or olive oil
cayenne to taste (Mom: 1 hefty dash)

flour for coating and oil for frying (Mom: use whole-wheat flour to coat; it gives a nice nutty flavor)

Mash beans with a potato masher & combine remaining ingredients except for flour for coating and oil for frying. Mixture will be soft. Shape into 1 in. balls (Roz: “a messy job!”), coat in flour, and shallow-fry a few at a time in oil until light brown. When cooked and crunchy, drain and serve. Mom: If you need to, pop patties into the oven for a few minutes while you finish frying.

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