Monday, April 22, 2013

falafel & homemade flatbreads with tzatziki

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I was first introduced to falafel 9 years ago, in the form of a Near East box by Justin. Ever since, I have been in love with the little chickpea rounds of goodness. Early Summer, our city holds a Multi Cultural day where several of our neighbors gather to celebrate the different cultures found in our City. We have several groups of refugees that call our little City home. I love seeing what a diverse culture we have, I also love all the amazing food each group brings to the table. Families set up tents throughout downtown, where they make and sell food that showcases the area from which they are from. One vendor sells an amazing Falafel - my sister and I love heading down for Falafel {along with some amazing Bhutanese food!) then finding a seat in the Rotary Park to watch some pretty incredible performers. Performances from African Dancing & Drumming, to traditional Indian Dance are scheduled every hour throughout the day.
I thought it was about time that I created my own version of Falafel, one that is inspired by the traditional Lebanese preparation - each region has their own way of preparing Falafel, this is the one I favor the most.

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Don't let the ingredient list scare you, once you have everything in place the falafel comes together very quickly. If you are able to recruit a few helping hands, have them start on the flatbread dough and tzatziki while you make the falafel - before you know it you will be enjoying homemade falafel.
Simply make sure you place the chickpeas to soak the night before you plan on making falafel -  the flatbreads can be made in advance as they reheat nicely.

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Traditional falafel is made with parsley and chervil, I opted to use beet greens as that is what I had on hand, beet greens are currently in season locally. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend of thyme, sumac & sesame - you can find Za'atar in Middle Eastern Markets, well stocked specialty food stores or online. This ingredient is totally optional, but Za'atar is a great spice blend to have in your pantry if you are able.

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I have been making the flatbreads for over a year now - Justin and I love making up a batch anytime we make curry, they are. The fatbread recipe was inspired by Heidi over at Food Doodles- she has some amazing recipes, you should go check her out!

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Falafel is the perfect party food, make up a big batch in advance and keep warm in the oven - set out the falafel, flatbreads, tzatziki along with all the toppings buffet style and let your guests build their own falafel. Serve with a side of  Tabbouleh and for fun maybe these cupcakes!
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Have you ever made homemade falafel - are you in love with falafel just as much as I am?
In your city or town, do you have an event similar to our multi cultural day?
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Falafel & Homemade Flatbreads with Tzatziki
makes 24 falafel, 4 flatbreads & 1 cup tzatziki

for the falafel
1 cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight - soaking water discarded
2 cups cooked fava beans
1/4 cup shredded beetroot greens or parsley 
2-3 garlic cloves
1 medium shallot or 1/4 of a small onion
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp chickpea flour
3 tsp za'atar (optional)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/4 - 1/2 cup warm water
canola oil for frying

for the Flatbreads
inspired by food doodles 5 minute naan
1 1/4 cup flour*
2/3 cup soygurt
pinch salt salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
coconut oil & vegan butter

for the tzatziki
1/2 cup plain soygurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1 garlic clove minced
pepper to taste

for garnish
tomato, lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, pickled radishes

assembly:

to make the falafel:
 
drain chickpeas and discard the soaking water. Place chickpeas in a food processor and process until crumbly. Add the remaining falafel ingredients (except for the oil for frying) and process until mixture is smooth and has a batter like consistency - add water as needed.

A tablespoon at a time, form falafel batter into round balls - I used a tablespoon cookie scoop which does the job nicely. Place each ball on a parchment lined baking sheet and continue to form the balls of falafel until all the batter is used.

Heat oil ( about 1 inch in the pan) in a heavy bottomed pan with high sides to about 350* - if you do not have a frying thermometer (I do not) place a cube of bread in the oil when you think it is hot enough, when the bread browns in about a minute your oil is ready.  Place as many falafel balls into the oil that will fit without over crowding - fry each side for about a minute or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer, place fried falafel on a paper towel lined plate to drain - repeat until all falafel are fried. Moving the drained falafel back to the parchment lined baking sheet just before the next round of falafel are removed from the oil.

Falafel can be kept warm in the oven at 200* prior to serving - to reheat falafel that has been stored in the fridge, bake in a 350* oven for 10-15 minutes.

to make the flatbreads:

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir in the  soygurt until flour is well moistened. Dust your surface with flour and turn out dough, use enough flour to keep your hands from sticking when kneading the dough. Knead until you achieve a smooth round ball. Using a knife or dough scraper, divide the ball of dough into 4 equal pieces.

Working with 1 section at a time, covering the remaining dough - dust a rolling pin and work surface with flour and roll your dough out into a round - turning as you roll to prevent dough from sticking. Roll to the thickness of your liking. Repeat with the three remaining sections of dough until you have 4 rounds.

Heat a medium frying pan over medium/ high heat- you may need adjust the heat throughout the process to ensure the pan does not run too hot. I typically start on medium/high and then adjust down to medium/low.
Place a dot of  vegan butter & coconut oil in the pan, working quickly swirl the butter/oil in the pan and add one round of dough - cover with a tight fitting lid which will create steam. Cook for about a minute or until the underside of the flatbread is spotted golden brown- flip, cover and cook the other side for about 30-45 seconds. Transfer flatbread to a warm oven (170*) and repeat the process for remaining flatbreads.

to make the tzatziki:

In a small bowl combine all ingredients and stir well.

To assemble- place about 3 falafel in a flatbread, top with shredded purple cabbage, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce or other toppings of your choosing.

Enjoy!

*The flatbreads can be made with whole wheat flour, spelt flour or all purpose flour - I have made the flatbreads with all three of these flours with great success.

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Yum

20 comments:

  1. i love that you used chickpeas and fava beans! these look so perfect and crispy, and the flat bread looks phenomenal. what a perfect mediterranean meal.

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  2. I love falafel! Yours looks delicious and those flatbreads look incredible too!

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  3. wowza.. those cute falafel balls, homemade naan and those tomatoes and colors.. this is too pretty to eat ;) i knew this post was coming coz i saw the pictures in the same album as the salad :) i havent had a good falfel in a while. most places they use the same oil and it usually smells of some or the other animal thing.

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  4. I LOVE falafel. It's a bit of a problem. Anytime I see a food truck/kebob stand I will get one, no matter the time of day. It's just the perfect handheld, filling food. Your recipe looks great! I will have to try it next time I make it myself.

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  5. These look PERFECT. And the fact that you made your own flatbread is just impressive! I feel like I would have a hard time taking the first bite since they are so pretty, but after one bite I know it would be all over and they would get inhaled!

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  6. I really need to try making falafel at home! One more reason to actually get a food processor one of these days, I guess. These look amazing!

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  7. Falafel is my most favourite thing - especially with some tahini dressing and banana peppers. Yum! These look amazing! The pictures are gorgeous too! Love the colours. So bright and vibrant. Omg...so hungry now. *hehe* :) Cannot wait to make these!

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  8. This is gorgeous!!! I was first introduced to falafel during my first trip to Israel! Loved it instantly! It took a trip to the Holy Land to get me to try these little chickpea spheres. YUM! I gotta try making these on my own. SOON!

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  9. Great looking falafels! We had a falafel stand in college. But that was in California, and it was the 70's!

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  10. Yum! There's a really great falafel shop here in DC called Amsterdam. It's so amazing. But they definitely don't have vegan tzatziki, which is a huge plus for making it at home!

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  11. This looks absolutely fantastic. Really like the flatbread recipe!

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  12. I've had some pretty bad versions of falafal, and some good homemade ones. I guess I'm picky about my falafel because I prefer them on the softer side rather than crispy and fried! Your recipe definitely sounds unique with the mixture of chickpeas and fava beans, and just the right spices for that middle eastern flavour! Tzatziki and soft pita are also a must for eating with falafal...I love that you made your own vegan versions!

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  13. So genius! Can't wait to try this in Korea where my kitchen (no oven!) and ingredient supply is limited. Cheers!

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  14. So I just tried out the recipe and it was absolutely delicious. I also made the flatbread and the sauce to go along with everything. I only had one problem: when I put the falafel into the oil they completely disintegrated. I ended up just pan frying them and it turned out fine...just not like the same beautiful little balls you had. The oil temperature was right and I did it for the right amount of time. Any ideas on what happened?

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    1. Hi Susie!

      I am so happy you tried out the recipe :) I honestly don't know why the falafel disintegrated...I have made this recipe multiple times and have yet to have that happen - the only thing I can think of is your oil wasn't hot enough? I found this- maybe increase the temp a little higher -

      FROM THE WEB {source: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/439795}

      "I have had mine disintegrate on occasion. Very sad. Here's an excerpt from Mark Bittman's The Minimalist column that addresses this. I have not made them since I spotted this last April:

      >There are two keys to making good falafel. First, keep the amount of water you use when grinding the beans to an absolute minimum. More water makes grinding easier, but it also virtually guarantees that the batter will fall apart when it hits the hot oil. If this happens, bind the remaining mixture by stirring in a little flour.

      For this reason, a food processor or very powerful blender is essential; you don't want a blender that isn't strong enough to grind the beans without adding too much water.

      The second essential step is to get the oil hot enough: 350 degrees or a little higher. If you don't have a thermometer, just wait until the oil shimmers and then add a pinch of the batter. When it sizzles immediately, sinks about halfway to the bottom, then rises to the top, the oil is ready. If it sinks and stays down, the oil is too cold; if it doesn't sink at all, the oil is too hot. <

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  15. This is SO going on my menu plan this week. I've been trying to make a falafel that doesn't fall apart for too long, no reason to keep re-inventing the wheel! xx

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  16. Seriously, falafel is one on of my favorite foods. I could eat it every day and never tire of it. Your version looks absolutely PERFECT! I'm totally in love right now!

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  17. I just found your blog and it's amazing! I'm meant to be revising but I'm just sitting scrolling through your recipes - they all look so wholesome and delicious! Definitely followed :)

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