Friday, May 16, 2008

Falafel with Tahini Sauce and Tahini Paste

I found out that if you want to make good falafel, you have to use fava beans. Live and learn:) And I found the recipe from Emeril, who as far as I'm concerned, almost never goes wrong.

If you cannot find skinless fava beans, you will need to peel them. This is most easily accomplished after the beans have soaked for a short while - the skins will puff up away from the bean and can then be peeled off. While this is not terribly difficult to do, it is very time consuming, so try to use skinless if you can source them.

If you love falafel like I do, give this recipe a try, instead of using the boxed ones, you will probably always use this recipe from now on.

I'm also adding a recipe to make the tahini paste, which is done using sesame seeds. Sesame seeds turn rancid quickly, so make certain yours are fresh. Be sure to store them away from light and heat and use quickly.

FALAFEL WITH TAHINI SAUCE

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups dried, peeled fava beans (skinless, split broad beans), soaked in cold water for 24 hours
1/3 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water for 24 hours
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves
1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon baking soda or baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Tahini Sauce, for serving, recipe follows
Warm pita bread, split in 1/2 lengthwise
Sliced tomatoes
Shredded lettuce

Directions:
Drain and rinse both the fava beans as well as the chickpeas. Combine both beans in the bowl of a food processor, along with the onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, baking soda, salt, ground coriander, and cayenne, and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until a coarse paste is formed. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water, if needed to make the paste hold together - you will have to remove the lid of the processor and check this by pressing some of the mixture together between your fingers. Add a bit more water, if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes.

Preheat at least 3-inches of oil in a saucepan or a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
Scoop the fava-chick pea mixture into 1 1/2 to 2-tablespoon increments and, using your hands, shape into balls or patties about 1 1/2 to 2-inches in diameter. Gently lower the falafel balls into the hot oil (these are fragile - do not drop them or they will fall apart.) Fry the falafel in batches until crisp and brown, turning to promote even browning, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer to paper-lined plates to drain briefly before serving.

Open the pita bread halves and insert 2 or 3 falafel patties into each. Drizzle with the tahini sauce and layer the tomatoes and lettuce on top. Serve immediately.

TAHINI SAUCE

Ingredients:
1 cup tahini paste, recipe follows
1/4 cup plus more, if necessary, lemon juice
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup water, as needed
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Make the sauce by combining the tahini paste, lemon juice, and garlic in a bowl and stirring to combine. Add the water a little at a time as needed to form a smooth, creamy sauce approximately the thickness of heavy cream. (Note that the sauce might appear to separate for a bit before enough water has been added; just keep adding more water bit by bit and stirring until the sauce comes together.)

Season to taste with salt and more lemon juice, if necessary. Transfer to a nonreactive container and refrigerate until ready to serve the falafel.

Yield: about 2 cups

TAHINI PASTE

Ingredients:
4 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tepid water

Directions:
Place sesame seeds in a blender or food processor and grind until smooth. Add sesame oil and salt. Process until combined. With the motor running, add the water in a very slow, steady stream and blend until smooth.

Yield: about 1 cup

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