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Old 02-07-2007, 03:09 PM   #1
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Why was my falafel awful?

Hi, first post! (I hope this is the right forum!)

So, the other night I tried to make one of my most favorite dishes ever. The falafel. I got some precanned chick peas, onions, garlic, and the assorted other seasonings required and suggested by tons of online sites and cook books.

As far as I know, the preparation stage went according to instruction, save for the onions maybe being a bit chunkier than expected.

Well, I tried frying them two different ways. One was in a fry daddy, set to the recommended temperature, and the other in a skillet. In both instruments the falafel broke up and practically melted as it cooked. The ones that did survive did not have the texture, nor the flavor, of the falafel at my favorite mediterranean dig.

From this short explanation, could any of you clue me into where I went wrong?

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Old 02-07-2007, 03:25 PM   #2
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Can you post a complete recipe, or if you winged it, describe it as much in detail as possible, including the ingredients (+ how much of each)??

Falafel can be tricky, one of those recipes I struggled to perfect, but I am pretty much getting there. Then I hope I will be able to help you!
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Old 02-07-2007, 03:26 PM   #3
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We would really need to know exactly how you made it. What ingredients did you use in what quantities and how you assembled them.

CAn you tell us more?
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Old 02-07-2007, 03:32 PM   #4
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Hi, Django ( like Django Reinhardt, yeah?)!
First thing about making falafel. You can't use canned chickpeas, as they are cooked. You have to soak dried chickpeas overnight (8 hours) then blend them to a rough paste.Raw chickpeas, in other words. I'd also suggest blending the garlic and onion ( just a very little bit) with the chickpeas.
the spices wouldn't have made any difference. Oh, and no water, unless your chickpea mixture is very very dry. If so, add just a little!
Second point could be the temperature of the oil. I do not possess a thermometer, nor a deep fryer, so my test is do drop a tiny bit of the mixture in the oil before I start frying. If it bubbles and rises immediately to the surface, then it's ready . Remember that, as you add the falafel to the oil, the temperature will drop, so you must be vigilant. Don't poke the falafel about until you're certain they are semi-crisp on the outside; ie. if you start poking them before they're fried, they'll come apart.
Finally - keep trying. Yes, keep trying. I seem to remember I did exactly the same thing some 15 years ago, with the same results as you.
Don't be disheartened - cooking is experimenting until you get it right!
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Old 02-07-2007, 04:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliveb
Hi, Django ( like Django Reinhardt, yeah?)!
First thing about making falafel. You can't use canned chickpeas, as they are cooked. You have to soak dried chickpeas overnight (8 hours) then blend them to a rough paste.Raw chickpeas, in other words. I'd also suggest blending the garlic and onion ( just a very little bit) with the chickpeas.
the spices wouldn't have made any difference. Oh, and no water, unless your chickpea mixture is very very dry. If so, add just a little!
Second point could be the temperature of the oil. I do not possess a thermometer, nor a deep fryer, so my test is do drop a tiny bit of the mixture in the oil before I start frying. If it bubbles and rises immediately to the surface, then it's ready . Remember that, as you add the falafel to the oil, the temperature will drop, so you must be vigilant. Don't poke the falafel about until you're certain they are semi-crisp on the outside; ie. if you start poking them before they're fried, they'll come apart.
Finally - keep trying. Yes, keep trying. I seem to remember I did exactly the same thing some 15 years ago, with the same results as you.
Don't be disheartened - cooking is experimenting until you get it right!
Do you have a recipe that you could share with me?

This is the recipe I used. I did not use any parsley, and I think I used a smaller amount of baking powder, as it was the last little bit that I had. Everything was chopped up extra fine, save the onion, which was a bit chunky. I've referenced a few websites since I made this thread, and I'm beginning to think that the lack of backing powder/bread is what caused it to have a funky taste and fall to pieces.
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • oil for frying (canola or vegetable)
Thanks for the replies, everyone!
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Old 02-07-2007, 04:47 PM   #6
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Clive is right on, you cannot use cooked chickpeas (that's what the canned version is). Your recipe sounds fine the only thing you need to change is instead of the canned chickpeas use a cup and a half of raw chickpeas. Soak them over night in plenty of water.

In the morning drain out all the water and grind them into a thick paste. Add salt and all the remaining ingredients. I like to chop my onion and garlic super fine and not blend them because this way they release less water. Once the batter is seasoned fry them using the method Clive recommended and they should come out good.

Baking powder does not cause things to fall apart in oil but liquid does. I have learned this the hard way when I was learning to cook and made numerous messes along the way. If you omit baking powder the end product will be a flat fitter. It will not fall apart but will not look nice and puffy.
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Old 02-07-2007, 05:36 PM   #7
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Hmmm. I don't know where to find raw chickpeas. I'll have to check the Co Op next time I'm in the capital.

I don't have a food processor, but I do have a blender and a chopper. The chopper can't really cut things too finely. Would a blender be a decent substitute?
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Old 02-07-2007, 05:38 PM   #8
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Django, a blender should work just fine as long as you've softened them up overnight in water as recommended above.
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Old 02-07-2007, 05:55 PM   #9
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If you don't have a store nearby then the internet can be your friend. You can go to Ethnic Grocer and order the chickpeas.

Do a search on Kabuli Chana and order them, they are the same things. A pack is 3.99. There is also a Falafel mix that they sell. It's pretty much grind beans. You just mix it with water and add some seasonings and you are ready to fry.

I have enclosed the links for you if you are interested in ordering online.

EthnicGrocer.com – Premier online provider of authentic ethnic foods and products - Falafel Mix

EthnicGrocer.com – Premier online provider of authentic ethnic foods and products - Kabuli Chana
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Old 02-07-2007, 06:43 PM   #10
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Wow.

Seems like a great website. Thanks for the link.
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