Saturday, May 14, 2011

Have You Tried...Falafel?

     Falafel is a dough made from ground chickpea ( garbanzo beans ) that is usually fried in a light oil and served in a pita pocket with tomatoes, lettuce, and often a hot sauce or tahini ( ground sesame ) on the side. It is a very common staple of the Mediterranean diet and is common in Egypt, Israel, and surrounding countries. Though usually fried, it can be baked to make it with a healthier cooking option. I've had falafel in restaurants, and it was delicious - so I thought perhaps making some at home might be a Clean menu alternative.  Homemade falafel is a little time consuming and often, ( I have heard ) the results aren't ideal. I opted to look for a Clean mix with which to experiment. I found an acceptable option with Fantastic World Foods brand Falafel mix.

     The directions couldn't be simpler - add 1 1/4 cups water to the mix, let stand for 15+ minutes, form into balls or patties, and fry / bake. I did. I decided to cook my falafel 4 different ways : traditional frying in 1/2" off veg oil, broiled after a quick brush in olive oil, baked after a quick spray of olive oil, and baked with no oil whatsoever.  
     Perhaps I did something wrong, because the only edible option was pan fried in oil - the least healthy option. Broiling and baking did not make the falafel brown and crispy, and the results were like dried up sand. Truly - inedible. The outside of the pan-fried batch was crispy and actually tasty - but the inside was grainy and unappealing. My husband, ever quick with the quip, dubbed it "Fal-awful."

     Seriously...anyone? Have you tried falafel mix at home? Is there a secret I didn't know? Or are falafel mixes just a gross alternative and best left to your local Mediterranean restaurant?