Cooking Off the Clock

The best falafel I've ever had is at Tiam in New York City's West Village. It was beyond memorable because it was so fluffy and light. Eating there inspired me to come up with my own version of falafel. You must have the Tahini Sauce (recipe follows) with this and I also enjoy it with Harissa (recipe follows), Greek yogurt, chopped cucumbers, and fresh parsley leaves. I don't care for store-bought pita, so some grilled flatbread made with pizza dough or warmed naan or lavash bread is also good.

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chickpeas, cooked
  • 1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seed
  • 1/4 cup matzo meal
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups canola oil, for frying

For Serving

  • Tahini Sauce (recipe below)
  • Harissa (recipe below)
  • Grilled flatbread
  • Cucumbers, chopped
  • Olives
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Lemon

Grind the cumin, coriander, and fenugreek seed and red pepper flakes together with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, onion, garlic, and the ground spices, and pulse several times to mince everything. Add the sesame seed, matzo meal, parsley, and baking powder and pulse until evenly mixed but not a puree. Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Add the chickpea mixture, salt, and a few cranks of black pepper. Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the chickpea mixture into 16 golf ball–size balls and flatten each slightly. Heat the canola oil in a heavy pot to 360°F on a deep-fat thermometer over high heat. Fry the falafel, in batches if necessary, turning in the hot oil as they fry, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Serve hot with the Tahini Sauce, grilled flatbread, yogurt, Harissa, and any combination of cucumbers, olives, parsley, and cilantro. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Tahini Sauce
Makes 1/2 cup

  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed puree)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a pure chile powder such as Urfa or ancho
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water

In a food processor, combine the tahini, garlic, ground cumin and fennel seed, salt, lemon juice, and cayenne. Pulse until smooth. With the motor running, add the water slowly until a creamy dressing comes together.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 medium roasted red bell pepper, or 4 ounces piquillo peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Cover the chiles with boiling water and let sit uncovered to rehydrate for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and put in a blender with the bell pepper, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, tomato paste, cumin, cayenne, pimentón, and rose water. Puree, then slowly add the olive oil. Adjust the seasoning with salt. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Reprinted with permission from Cooking off the Clock: Recipes from My Downtime by Elizabeth Falkner, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Prep time: 
15 minutes
Cook time: 
15 minutes
Total time: 
30 minutes
4 servings
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