Until recently, if you’d asked me if I ever wanted to make falafel at home, I’d have said “sure, one day” but what I meant was “nah, why bother?” I was certain that falafel was fussy to make and had a long ingredient list. It probably related in some way to a fritter, meaning that it was bound with eggs and flour, and probably had breading on it too, all pesky steps and this is even before you get to the peskiest of all: deep-frying them. I figured that it’s one of these things that there as many recipes for as there are people who make it, thus whatever I came up with would be wrong by default – too firm or too soft, with chickpeas instead of favas or vice-versa — no matter what. But this isn’t the whole truth. The fact is that below 14th Street, there are two locations each of Taim and Mamoun’s every time I even distantly considered whether I needed a homemade falafel recipe in my life, I knew I could get a perfectly executed sandwich in my hands before I even wrote out a grocery list.
Hey, I’m not proud of this. I pride myself on being a curious person in the realm of cooking so it’s pretty pathetic that I had falafel all worked up in my head as this highly complex thing and never once, you know, read a few recipes. Had I, I’d have learned many extremely cool things about falafel such as the fact that while you do need to start with dried chickpeas (come back!), you don’t even have to cook them, or not in the classic long-simmered way, to make it. You soak them overnight in cold water, grind them up with seasonings and herbs, pack them into spoonfuls, fry them in less than an inch of oil in merely a few minutes, and that is it. There’s no egg. There’s no breading. It’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, it’s dirt cheap, and it’s easy, I mean criminally easy, to make. And I had to do it immediately.
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