Jun 7, 2012

Monthly Cooking Adventure: Falafel (Fava Bean Fritters)

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti." -- The Silence of the Lambs.

Not wanting to skip our Monthly Cooking Adventure this month (and wanting to see what would happen if I "went off" the Body Ecology Diet for an evening), the vegetarian and I picked fava beans as this month's main ingredient and I decided to make Falafel, fava bean fritters. I adapted the recipe from The Book of Jewish Food and, with my seasoning changes, everyone agreed they were the best Falafel we'd ever had ... if I do say so myself.

I actually tweaked the original recipe quite a bit. To counteract the bitter fava beans, I added pungent spring onions, salty sea salt, hot chile peppers, bittersweet cumin, garlic, sour yogurt and walnut oil. I also soaked the beans with a piece of kombu; this makes them easier to digest and I highly recommend it. The fritters are best right out of the oven (along with some hot sauce) so only make as many as you're going to eat. The batter saves well so you can fry up more whenever the inspiration strikes.

For a treat, I recommend them with Vegetable Couscous and Chickpea & Chile Pepper Salad. Bon appetit!

Falafel (Fava Bean Fritters)
adapted from The Book of Jewish Food

Place beans and kombu in a large pot and cover with cold water. Let soak 12 hours. Rinse, drain well and pat dry on a clean dishtowel.

Finely chop parsley and onions in a food processor (much easier than doing it by hand). Remove and put aside. Add beans to food processor and blend, pausing to scrape down the bowl, about 15 minutes, until it's a smooth paste about the consistency of chunky peanut butter. Add salt, chile powder, cumin, garlic and yogurt and process another 5-10 minutes until well combined. Return parsley and onions and pulse a few times, just until mixed through. Remove from food processor and set aside to rest for 1 hour.

To fry: The best bet is to do these in batches. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until just before it smokes. Take walnut-sized lumps of batter (smaller than you may be used to but, believe me, it works better) and shape them into round flat cakes. Fry as many as you can comfortably fit into the pan (without crowding!). Once the falafels are in, lower heat to low and let fry until golden, about 5 minutes on each side. While they're frying, set up a plate with a layer of paper towels on it. Remove falafels to this plate to drain once they're cooked. Serve with pita bread, salad or whatever you like. Enjoy!

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