Home-made Falafel, Pita Bread & Tahini Sauce
Hi! My name is Klil, I'm an Isreali WWOOFer volunteering here at Bobcat Ridge Avocados as part of a 6-months long trip in the U.S. & Canada. Now, being from Israel means I am continuously and consistently disappointed with the Falafel that I eat anywhere in the world that is not Israel. The solution? Make it myself!
Now, beyond the fact that Americans don't know how to make the actual falafel "balls"/patties, they also have a deep misunderstanding of what pita bread is, and how to eat tahini. So let's start with instructions for falafel, then move on to some explanations.
1 cup DRIED chickpeas (DO NOT use canned chickpeas), soaked in water for at least 12 hours (if you soak them for longer, make sure to change the water every 12 hours)
1 medium sized onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking soda
1 slice of bread, soaked in water and crumbled
Put everything in food processor and process until you get a mixture that's pretty finely chopped but not yet smooth. It should be a little chunky.
Deep-fry in canola oil until they are a brown-but-not-burnt color. Should take around 2-3 minutes for each patty if you fry 5-6 at a time. Make sure the oil isn't too hot so that the outside doesn't cook (and burn) too quickly. Start at a medium heat and adjust according to how long it takes for the patties to cook.
So, pita bread in most of North America seems to be this dry, thin, flatbread. It in fact should not be any of those things. Pitas are soft, fluffy flatbreads that actually have these sort-of "pockets" in them, that you can fill with anything you want (such as falafel), and they are stupidly-easy to make at home.
So with no forther ado:
Ingredients (for 10 pitas):
3 1/2 cups (490g) flour (either white ot whole-wheat)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup (300ml) water
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix in olive oil, then gradually mix in water. Continue to knead for about 10 more minutes.
Cut the dough and roll into 10 equally sized pieces. Flatten each piece with a rolling pin until it is a little less than 1/4" thick (about 1/2 cm), and place in an oven pan, on a lightly-floured piece of parchment. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 400F
After 30 minutes, right before you put them in the oven, gently flip over the pitas. Bake for 8-10 minutes, and you'll see that they have miraculously puffed up, creating a pocket. You now have honest-to-god real Israeli pitas!
Cover with a towel until cool, then place in an air-tight container to keep them from going stale. They'll stay pretty fresh for about a day, but you can also freeze them for later use.
It has become apparent to me that Americans don't know what to actually do with tahini. They'll just take the raw paste that they buy at the supermarket and mix it into some salad dressing, or use it for doomed-to-begin-with, failed attempts at making home-made hummus.
What most people-who-are-not-from-Israel don't realize, is that you are supposed to mix water into that raw paste, to create a deliciously multi-purpose dip/sauce that you can eat with just about anything.
To make this sauce you have 2 options: the first is to use store-bought tahini, and the second is to make it yourself with sesame seeds. The store-bought option is more expensive, but has better texture and is less bitter, while the from-scratch, sesame-seeds version is less processed (obviously).
*Option 1: Just add some water to your store-bought tahini paste (about 1-for-1 tahini-water ratio), and mix it with a fork until you get a smooth, creamy consistency, that has a light gray-ish color. Add either more water or more tahini, according to how thick or thin you want your sauce to be.
Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Done!
Or if you'd like, you can also add: garlic, cumin, chopped parsley and any other herbs and spices you think will go with it!
*Option 2: Toast 1 cup sesame seeds, then blend using a high-powered blender with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil until it becomes a sticky, brown, oily paste (like the store-bought stuff). Then just add the water, lemon juice, salt, pepper and whatever else you'd like.
For a yummy falafel sandwich just stuff your pita bread with some falafel patties, veggies & pickles and pour your tahini sauce all over it.