Sunday, June 27, 2010


Peoria, Illinois, where I grew up, has a surprisingly large Lebanese population. Jenni and I used to love stopping at Haddad's restaurant on Main to get some home cooking courtesy of Mr. Haddad and family. Tabouli salad, hummus, pitas, falafels, really great stuff.

Falafels are a popular, protein rich, street food throughout Israel, Egypt and Lebanon. You can get mixes to make them, but it's easy to make your own from scratch.

The recipe below comes from Joan Nathan's book the Foods of Israel Today It was also posted on

1 cup dried chickpeas
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 tahini thinned with water.

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