19 March, 2008

Vegetarian Sausage!

By any other name: Falafel, The Coptic Lenten treat.

A few weeks ago when me and the boys stopped into Jerusalem Grocery and Bakery on 159th ST in Orland Park. We went for the fresh pita, but we also found some dried chick peas. On the back of the package was a recipe for falafel. Oh boy, I love falafel. I remember the first time I had it: Twenty years ago at the Pita Inn, in Skokie. Savory deep fried love in a pocket. (Hey Brian, you remember that time we went with the Mitsi and ran afoul of some low slung cables? Good times.)
But wait it gets better, on the back of the package it says for best results use a meat grinder. Hey I got one of those!

According to the Oxford Companion to Food, Falafel is considered to have originated in Egypt, where it has become a national dish. Early Christan Copts served it at many religious festivals and ate it a lot during Lent. However the the book goes on to report that in Egypt falafel is made with a broad bean called ful nabed, and the chick pea is used elsewhere in the Middle East.

Back in present time, our chick peas have soaked for a very long time and have been combined with the onions and parsley. Time to grind.

For the falafel, I really wanted a cucumber mint yogurt sauce to garnish. I took some plain yogurt and put it in a muslin lined colander for a couple of hours to thicken. Let's go outside to see if we can find any mint:


For the recipe pick up a package Ziyad Brand Dry Chick Peas. A little bit goes a long way, unless you are having a party, make half a recipe, use the other half for hummus.



rachel said...

OMG they look so good. No longer being in brooklyn I havent had a falafel in ages. I used to love going to rainbow falafel on 17th and union square west. Maybe I will be able to capture a little of the old glory.

mac said...

They were really really good. Have your cook whip up a mess of them, you can brown bag it at the hospital.

Dave said...

Most excellent, I like the frying outdoors too. Perfect use of a gas grill.

How does grinding a meal for falafel compare to a food processor (if you've ever used a food processor for this)? Kind of an interesting method.

mac said...

Hey Dave:

I resisted for years but when I realized I could run a grill off of a natural gas hook-up, I plugged in. I am still figuring it out but it's like having an outdoor oven (not a very efficient one), but it works well for operations that could get smoky/smelly indoors.

I haven't tried the food processor for falafel. I was just so fascinated by the recipe on the bag, I made it and I never looked back. Its nice coarse patty. The recipe says to grind twice, I don't do that anymore.

Thanks for writing.