Every year, my husband and I switch between hosting New Year’s Eve, and the Super Bowl. This year, we got the Super Bowl.
Whether you like football or not, it’s an excuse to get together with friends and food. Other than watching the commercials, I don’t get too enthusiastic about football. Food, however, is a different story.
I played around with the idea of making traditional falafel, and making them into smaller “sliders” or even just setting everything out on to platters and making a fun falafel bar. This way, your guests can help themselves. I served them here with traditional tahini, Israeli salad and cabbage salad. They are served on pita bread that I charred on the stove top and cut down to the size of the falafel balls. You can get creative and have a whole spread. Think Israeli pickles, pickled turnips, carrot salad, baba ganoush and tabbouleh.
The key to really pulling this off is making sure that your falafel taste authentic–crispy on the outside, and light and fluffy on the inside. Before doing some research, I believed that this could be achieved by using canned chickpeas. I realized that the correct way to do this was to actually soak the dry chickpeas overnight and grind them raw!
If you think about it, it makes sense because you will be cooking them by frying them in hot oil. If you use canned beans, it would be a double cooking process which would result in a dense falafel ball. By using the dry beans, you actually eliminate the need for a binder, while keeping them light and fluffy. Another key step is to allow the mixture to set in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes before making the balls. Just like matzah balls, resting allows the starch to be released from the beans, helping the falafel stick together.
Mix them with some fresh herbs (I used cilantro, flat leaf parsley and mint), which gives the falafel balls their unique herby flavor and vibrant green color.
If you plan on making a “falafel bar” for your Super Bowl party, you can make all the salads and accompaniments ahead of time, and just fry the falafel balls at the last moment.
1 ½ cup dry chickpeas (soaked overnight)
½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
½ cup scallions, sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 cups vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil) for frying
The night before, soak the dry chickpeas in a bowl with at least 3 inches of water covering them.
When you are ready to start making the falafel, drain the chickpeas from the water and ensure they are very dry. (salad spinner or clean kitchen towels work great)
Pulse them in the food processor with the herbs, scallions, garlic and seasoning and pulse until they all start to bind. At this point, I recommend frying a piece of the mixture – just to make sure the seasoning is on point (otherwise, you cannot go back and fix the whole batch).
Allow them to sit in the refrigerator for approximately 15 minutes to allow the starches come out (this will help you form them easier).
Begin to heat your oil on low heat while you form the balls. You can measure them (approximately a Tbsp) or eyeball them, as long as they are approximately the same size, so the cook evenly.
Shallow fry them in the oil and flip them when you see the bottoms start to turn golden brown.
When they all golden brown on all sides, drain them onto paper towels and season with salt. Serve immediately.
*You may be able to prepare the falafel balls ahead of time and freeze them prior to frying, but I cannot speak on the impairment of quality. If you try it, let us know how it turned out!