Chickpeas & Oats Falafel – Served New York City style
I was introduced to ‘Falafel’ by my husband. When he was in NY city, these was a food stall near Columbia University that served (still serves) the best falafels. It was his regular lunch before I came here and I used to wonder how he could eat the same thing again and again every day?? I got my answer the very first time I tasted them!!! For those of you who are new to falafel, it is a popular street food from the Middle East countries. These are small crispy fritters, made mostly from chickpeas and fava beans. Each country in that region has their own recipe. They are usually spiced with cumin, coriander and parsley.
Falafels are usually served on pita bread, and in the NY stall that I mentioned earlier, he has his unique way of serving them, with rice. The rice used to be the parboiled basmati, spiced very mildly with turmeric and some spices (I still regret not getting the original recipe from him). So let me describe how he serves the falafel. He would pick about 4-5 falafels and crush them on the hot griddle, sprinkling them with chili powder and onions, saute this for about 3-4 mins and add this over a bed of the divine yellow rice. Top it with some kind of white sauce (which I guess is mayo or Caesar dressing) and hot sauce, with a side of lettuce and tomatoes. Have I made you guys hungry already??? We absolutely loved it and ate it every chance we got!! So here I have just tried to recreate the magic, but its not the same. Still, as we cannot visit the stall anymore (we are in Delaware now), it works okay. So do try this recipe and lemme know what you think of it. I shall give the basic yellow rice recipe that I make at the end. You could also serve these in a pita bread with some onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and tahini based sauces. Which ever way you wish to serve these, they are absolutely delicious. Falafels would make great party food, as everything can be made/cut ahead of time and all your guests need to do is assemble them! So enough of my ideas, lets get the recipe, shall we?
Today I started out to make chickpea falafels and at the last minute thought of adding some oats (I try to sneak in oats where ever possible, as my HD would not eat plain oats). The outcome was very nice, wonderful texture, my hubby could not even make out that I had added oats!
Note: Most recipes on the internet call for canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans. But that is a bad idea, the falafels do not turn out good and separate into bits as soon as you add the balls into hot oil. Traditionally the falafels are made with uncooked pre-soaked beans, that’s how I tried making them today, and they were perfect!
Dry Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans – 1/2 cup(this will yield in about a cup of beans after soaking overnight)
Quick cooking Oats(Ground into a fine flour) – 1 cup
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Red Chili powder/flakes – 1 tsp(optional, but they give a nice kick)
Salt and pepper- to taste
Green chilies/Serrano peppers – 2 no.(optional)
Parsley/Coriander/Cilantro leaves – a handful(use whatever is available)
Garlic – 2 large cloves
Fine bread crumbs – 2-3 tbsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
olive oil – 1 tsp
Water – 1 tbsp (only if required)
Oil for deep frying
- Soak the dry chickpeas overnight in sufficient water overnight. Drain them before using the next day.
- Dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds and grind them into a fine/coarse powder.
- Blend all the ingredients except the Oats flour and breadcrumbs, in a blender/food processor into a coarse paste. I think it will be easy to pulse them in a food processor, but if you are using a blender(as I do), it is important to stop after each pulse and mix the ingredients with a spatula, pushing them down, so you will get an even coarse paste.
- Remove the ground paste to a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, and then the Oats flour gradually. Adjust seasoning. The consistency of the final dough should be neither too wet nor too dry. You should be able to roll the dough into small balls and the balls should hold their shape once you set them on a plate. Make small 1 inch balls of the dough.
Note: You will use up almost 3/4 cup of the oats flour, after that be a little careful.
- Heat oil in a skillet and test the temperature by dropping just a pinch of dough into the hot oil, if it comes up immediately, you are ready. Fry the balls on medium flame until they are deep golden brown ans the bubbles around the balls start to subside. Do not fry them on HIGH heat, as they will become brown very quickly, but will be raw inside.
Enjoy!! Falafels taste just as good at room temperature too.
New York City style Falafels with Rice
For the Yellow Rice:
Basmati rice(regular or parboiled) – 1 cup
Water – 1 3/4 cup
Bay Leaf(Dry) – 1 medium
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Ghee/Butter – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro/Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp(chopped)
- Wash and soak the rice for at least 30 mins. Mix all the above ingredients and water in an electric rice cooker bowl and cook until done. Sprinkle the cilantro and mix after the rice is done.
Tip: Always fluff the rice(with a fork or spatula) as soon as it is cooked, to avoid the grains sticking to each other.
To Serve the falafel with rice:
Falafels – 4-5 no.
Yellow Rice – as required
Onions – 1/2 medium(use raw or sautéed/grilled)
Lettuce – as required
Tomatoes – a few slices
Hot sauce – a few dashes
Caesar salad/Thousand islands/Mayo dressing – as required
- Make a bed of rice on a plate. Crush the falafels on the chopping board so they break open. Put these on the bed of rice.
- Top with all the other toppings. For an extra kick, sprinkle some chili powder on the top!!
(I did not have all the ingredients I mentioned above on hand, so this is today’s version, topped with some jalapeno pickles!!)