Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This weekend we made an impromptu onion dip - I ground an onion with cream cheese, pickled ramps, garlic, buttermilk power, and salt - in order to have with these awesome puffed rice-and-corn Indian snacks called Kurkure, which are like green chutney flavored Cheetos.

(We miss out, you know. Our only Cheetos are cheese-flavored and the occasional variant like chili-cheese, flaming hot, nacho. Doritos' killer app was Cool Ranch - I'm old enough to remember when it was introduced, but for the life of me have no idea why anyone ever ate Doritos when the red bag was all we had, cause everyone since has seemed to prefer the blue bag. But most importantly, it wasn't just a cheese variant. Cheetos seem locked in cause of their name - except in Japan, where they have caramel Cheetos, mayonnaise Cheetos, roasted chicken Cheetos, you name it, none of which have cheese - but the rest of the world has plenty of puffed corn snacks in other flavors.)

Anyway, I had leftover onion dip. What to do, what to do. Falafel!


Falafel is a crunchy on the outside, delicious on the inside, fritter of ground-up chickpeas and/or fava beans, seasoned with parsley, onion, garlic, cumin, and probably other things in other places. (They were probably originally made with fava beans, and the chickpea-only variant originated because of the prevalence of favism - a fava bean allergy - among Jews. Probably. Who knows.) This is soul food, and more non-vegetarians should get on board with it. It's also a good example of parsley contributing flavor, not just token green garnish.

I'd never made it before, so I'll just link you to the recipe I used after reading several others and a number of message board threads. A lot of contemporary recipes will use canned beans, but I saw a lot of complaints about the texture of such recipes - which makes sense because, as surprising as it may seem, falafel traditionally uses chickpeas/favas that have been soaked but not cooked. The soaking - a full 24 hour soak, not merely overnight - is sufficient, if your chickpeas aren't years-old, to soften them enough that once they're ground up with the other ingredients and deep-fried, you're good to go.

Changes I made were purely because of what I did and didn't have in the house: I used one bunch of parsley, since I had no cilantro; I had no coriander seed, so left it out; I used ground ancho chile for the hot pepper, just cause I particularly like ancho with cumin and garlic. My falafel stayed in the refrigerator overnight, simply because I wanted to grind everything last night so that I could get the Cuisinart in the dishwasher.

Real easy. Real good.

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