Recipe: Falafels ~ Cairo’s Street Food
After Rhonda and I met, I invited her over for lunch. I made an easy pasta dish with kale, white beans and spicy sausage. I didn’t know my new friend was Muslim until I took her plate and noticed all the rounds of sausage still left. She had been too polite to say anything and I felt like a bit of an arse not having thought that through beforehand.
A few weeks later she invited me to her house for lunch, or at least that is what she called it– lunch; it was more like an elaborate buffet. An amazing assortment of small dishes and fantastic sauces. When I told her how generous she was to have made the amazing assortment of Egyptian specialties, Rhonda said, ‘Oh, it’s not really anything special– it’s just street food from Cairo.’
Rhonda is awesome.
The dish that intrigued me the most was the falafels that she served. Instead of chickpeas, she made them with fava beans and LOADS of parsley. They were very green and extremely tasty. She said that falafels were originally from Egypt and could be made with either fava beans and/or chickpeas.
I set out to make falafels Rhonda’s way but realized that I didn’t have dried fava beans. I copped out and developed a recipe using canned chickpeas. I also baked them, rather than fry… okay, so these are not Rhonda’s Egyptian falafels, but they are still pretty good.
Falafel or Ta’amiya
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 big handful of parsely
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed and drained well
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-6 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon corn starch
1) Place the onion and garlic into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, to chop. Add in the parsley and do the same. Now add in the rest of the ingredients except for the water and corn starch. Process until it comes to a paste consistency– this is where you may need water, adding 1 tablespoon at a time until the paste consistency is reached, then add in the corn starch.
The mix can now be left to sit, covered at room temperature for an hour or two, or can be baked immediately.
2) Preheat the oven to 400F. Roll the mix into balls the size of a small lime. Brush one side of the balls with vegetable or olive oil and place, oil side down on a baking tray. Pat down ever so slightly. Bake for 10 minutes in a hot oven, then brush the tops with oil and carefully turn them over. Bake for 10 minutes more.
Serve in a pita with Tahini sauce (recipe here), pickled vegetables (recipes below) and salad. Makes about 8 balls (4 servings).
Pickled Beets with Greens
So simple and so good– these make a nice accompaniment to salads or as a simple side dish.
1 bunch fresh beets (3 big beets, or 4 medium size)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon table sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1) Set a large pot of water on to boil. Trim the greens from the beets, remove the coarse stem and chop the greens. With a paring knife, remove the skin from the beets and slice into 1/2 inch match sticks. Place the beets (not the greens) into boiling water– once the water comes back to the boil, cook the beets for 3 minutes exactly.
2) Mix up the vinegar with sugar, salt until the granules dissolve, then and the water. Drain the beets on a colander holding the greens, this will wilt the greens, which is all the cooking they need. Toss the beets and greens with the vinaigrette. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Nothing to this.
Cut a cucumber into small cubes. Finely chop some fresh mint. Toss together. I used 1/2 an English cucumber with 8 mint leaves.
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