This crispy snack can also be a wholesome meal when paired with bread and hummus.
There is hardly a dish in the Middle-Eastern cuisine that cannot be paired with a dip or a condiment. Take falafel for instance. For the unversed, falafel is a crispy, deep-fried fritter made with mushy chickpeas. The batter is rolled into balls and deep-fried until they turn dark brown. While falafel can be paired with pita bread, a staple bread from the Middle-East, it is slightly dry in taste and requires an accompaniment. At this time, hummus comes to the rescue. While some may think that a chickpea-based dip wouldn’t work well with a fritter made from the same legumes, the opposite is true. However, the art of making crispy falafels is no cakewalk and requires practice and care.
While falafel is quick and easy to make today, its history isn’t as simple as the recipe. There are several claims that have been made about the origins of falafel. One theory suggests that it originated in Egypt some 1,000 years ago. After the British occupation of the country in the late 19th century, the officials who returned from India fell in love with vegetable fritters. Upon their request, the cooks in the Egyptian port of Alexandria, devised the falafel and the rest is history. It is interesting to note that the falafel has many claimants due to which it is unclear as to who actually invented the dish.
In order to avoid apprehensions, it is believed that falafel is largely a Middle-Eastern dish because the idea of frying legumes cannot be accredited to one person or country. Given the unclear historical roots of falafel, it definitely takes a lot of practice and certain tricks to ace the most perfect falafel.
Here are a few tips and tricks to make crispy falafel at home:
1. The trick to a good and crispy falafel lies in its batter. The chickpeas used for making falafel should be soaked for as long as 12 hours to attain the right texture. Dried chickpeas are the key to a crispy falafel as they prevent the batter from falling apart.
2. Another trick that works here is that when you are grinding the falafel mixture, make sure that you leave it at a crumbly and coarse state. A grainy mixture will hold the falafel better together.
3. When preparing the falafel batter, add some baking powder as it lends a certain fluffiness to the ball when it is being fried. Flat, patty-shaped falafels aren’t the real deal.
4. You need to allow the batter to rest for at least half an hour before frying. It is best if you let it set in a refrigerator so that the herbs are infused properly as well as the falafel doesn’t break apart.
5. The test of time is when you have to fry the falafels and at this point, you shouldn’t go beyond medium heat. This will prevent any chances of burning the balls as well as allow them to cook both inside and outside.
6. Stuffing the pan with too many balls at the same is not a good idea as they wouldn’t be cooked properly and the balls might bump into each other and fall apart.