Tuesday, July 31, 2012

King of Falafel

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I spend about 3 hours each day watching the Olympics. Is that too much? I almost teared up when I saw Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston crying on their winning of a silver medal for 3m synchronized diving. I saw a commercial that said the total distance of all the practice dives a diver makes to be in the Olympics is equal to diving from the world's tallest building 180 times. Such physical ability and time commitment to become world's elite athletes, more motivation for my 6-mile run under 88 degrees direct sun.

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It has been a little over a month since Jake and I decided to do meatless days twice a week. The only week we were only able to do meatless one day was because we went camping. Otherwise, we have been successful in keeping our food rules. I used to think that I need to serve meat everyday because that's how we were brought up. My mom thinks a meal is not complete unless there is some meat (while my dad agrees, he also thinks a meal is not a meal without rice). Needless to say, salads were not a meal option at my home.

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Jake and I have made falafels before, but we were always changing the recipe based on what we had at home. Even the kind of sides that goes with falafel is important. Last night we used dill in the falafel dough instead of parsley and cilantro. Then I made cucumber tomato and dill yogurt salad. Yummo! Our dinner fits quite well with the international-feel of Olympics. (Besides from my daily cucumber and cream cheese sandwich. The cucumber supple of my CSA seems endless)

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Recipe from epicurious.com
1 cup dried chickpeas (can substitute with 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons flour
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying
Chopped tomato for garnish
Diced onion for garnish
Diced green bell pepper for garnish
Tahina sauce
Pita bread

1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.
2. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
3. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
4. Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets.
5. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.

I found that pungent herbs can substitute parsley and/or cilantro. Last night, I used dill.

Cucumber, Tomato, and Dill Yogurt Salad 

1 cup cucumber, diced
1 cup tomato, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
1/3 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

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