Fool-proof Fluffy Falafel
I’ve had way too many bad falafels in Cape Town. Knowing how fluffy, crispy and light they could be, like mom made them, makes me a bit of a falafel snob. It always looked too difficult to make so I never tried, then one day I felt brave and asked my mom for instructions. What is beautiful about this is that my mom adapted the ingredients to what she could find locally. This is such a common thing to do as an immigrant, and it paves the way for some genuinely exciting innovation at times. For me, this is one of those times. We couldn’t find fresh broad beans so instead; my mom uses dried green split peas. Yes, the type you would use for soup. The results were light and fluffy falafels that didn’t leave you bloated. With the addition of a lot of green herbs, the centres were bright green, which is how I remember the falafel in Egypt to always have. It does take a bit of time compared to other meals, but for a falafel recipe, it doesn’t get simpler. You need a food processor for this recipe.
1 500g packet of green split peas
20g fresh dill
20g fresh parsley
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
- Soak split peas in water overnight. Ie. Add double the amount of water to split peas and leave in a bowl, unrefrigerated overnight.
- Dry the split peas as much as possible, the more water in your mixture, the thinner your falafel mixture will be. I lay them on a towel and pat dry with another.
- Roughly chop onion and to food processor. Once ground down, you want to remove as much juice as you can from the pulp. You can do this by taking the onion out of the food processor and squeezing the juice out with your hands.
- Add the onion back in the food processer, then add the garlic, split peas and all the herbs. (the herbs should also be thoroughly dried after washing). And blend. Mixture should be blended well and fine, but still firm enough to shape with your hands. What is great is that at this point you could split the mixture to freeze half, it freezes really well.
- Add mixture into a bowl and add the cumin, salt and baking powder and mix it well. Using your hands to mix is a good way to ensure everything has mixed together. Leave mixture for half an hour. This allows the baking powder to start working.
- Shape the mixture into balls with your hands, like you would a meat ball. And flatten slightly so you get round disks. You can sprinkle some sesame seeds on at this point for decoration, but not necessary for taste.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a deep skillet/pan. You need oil to be hot for the falafel to crisp up. You can test if its hot by adding a little bit of mixture into oil, if it bubbles furiously, its ready.
- Add falafel into oil, careful not to splash yourself. It should brown quite quickly, maybe a minute. Turn to brown the other side. Remove when done and lay on paper napkins to absorb any excess oil.
Serve with pita bread, tahini sauce, slices tomatoes and pickles for the perfect falafel pita.