Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 79! Israel - Vegetarian: Falafel (פלאפל) and Tabbouleh with Tahini Sauce - Up Next, Italy

Falafel with Tabbouleh and Tahini Sauce
Considered the ultimate street food in Israel, Falafel is one of my all time favorite vegetarian dishes.  Wrapped in warmed pita bread, drizzled with garlic and lemon infused Tahini sauce and pilled high with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, the nutty crunchiness of Falafel rivals a good steak any day. To accompany tonight's Israeli meal, I also made a batch of Tabbouleh, loaded with fresh parsley and mint from my garden, scallions, tomatoes, cucumbers and lemon juice.



BUT, WAIT!! The first falafel recipe I tried failed miserably. Everything was going along just fine until about 30 seconds into the cooking, when the lovely little falafel balls disintegrated in the cooking oil before my very eyes. I had two recipes, one that used an egg to bind the chickpeas, another that simply used flour...Sooooo....I tossed out the first egg-less mess (and recipe), and started a second batch that used  an egg, bread crumbs and bulgur wheat which went off without a hitch. Phew.

Located on the Eastern Shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Israel borders Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, Egypt and Gaza. It is the only predominantly Jewish state in the world. Israel's rich history dates back to Biblical times. As most are aware, the Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting over land they both believe belongs to them for roughly 60 years.

 For religious Jewish Israelis and religious Muslim Palestinians, to give up or give away their land would be tantamount to committing a sin against God, whom both sides believe gave them the land. It's a rather simple concept, but the religious implications and the complex history make this on-going war one of the most deadly and drawn out conflicts in modern history. Sadly, resolution seems a remote hope.

Israeli cuisine is influenced by the Mizrahi, Sepharic and Ashkeriazi Jews. Arabic, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures also influence Israeli cuisine. Dishes such as falafel, humus, shakshouka, couscous and za'atar (a seasoning I love to use) are all enjoyed by Israelis.

Mint, scallions, parsley, lemons and tomatoes add kick to the tabbouleh's mild flavor

Frying up the way they're SUPPOSED to! Second time's a charm!

Falafel wrapped up in pita bread, drizzled with tahini sauce
  topped with scallions & tomatoes - most excellent.
Falafel (Adapted from World Recipes)
(Makes about 24 balls)

  • 1 lb. can chick peas (drained)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cup breadcrumbs or fine bulgur (I used both)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Combine chick peas, onion, parley, lightly beaten egg and spices. Pulse in food processor. Add breadcrumbs/bulgur until mixture forms a small ball without sticking to your hands. Form chick pea mixture into small balls about the size of a walnut and fry until brown on both sides. Drain falafel balls on paper towels. Serve individually or in pita bread with tahini sauce, filling with chopped tomato, scallions, cucumber, lettuce, humus or anything you like!

Tabbouleh (Adapted from Bob's Red Mill recipe)

2 cups bulgur (pre-soaked for one hour)
3 cups parsley, finely minced
1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Pre-soak bulgur in a bowl with 2 cups of water, let stand 1 hour.
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, gently mix together all ingredients, except the lemon juice, oil and cucumber. Add the lemon juice, toss and chill for 1 hour to blend the flavors. Before serving, toss and again with olive oil and add the cucumbers. Serve along side falafel with pita bread.

Final Assessment:  Other than the falafel fiasco with the first recipe I tried, this turned out to be a delicious and satisfying meal enjoyed by my entire family. Leftovers will certainly be taken to work tomorrow!


KK said...

I looove falafel :) A friend in junior high got me hooked on it, we would go to her house after school and make yummy :). And when I worked for Northeast Foods in Cambridge (supplier to whole food co-ops), we sold a great mix for it...and we had a full kitchen, so we could make ourselves anything we wanted for lunch. Man I miss it !! And I miss good falafel !! Now I want to come over :)

New Orleans Native said...

I am going next week with my daughter to a wedding in Tel Aviv and these gorgeous photos have helped me to decide that the first thing I will do is buy some delicious felafel. Thanks for getting me in the mood!

sadie said...

Aren't you fortunate to live in beautiful New Orleans AND have the opportunity to travel to Tel Aviv! Thanks so much for the kind note :) and safe travels!