The vegetarian meatballs known as falafels, which are made from chickpeas, are popular all over the world. Their country of origin is thought to be Egypt but they have transformed into a national dish of Yemen and many other Arab nations.
There are varying types of recipes for making them that you can try but it's important to follow a few key rules that you'll hardly find in every cookbook on Arabic cuisine. Here's what's crucial to know:
1. Be careful when using baking soda. It's only used to make the mixture more porous but shouldn't be overused. Even if it's listed in the majority of recipes you can even go without adding it and use only baking powder.
2. Since falafels are widespread throughout the entire Arab world, there are a myriad of recipes for their preparation. For example you can knead a dough for them not only from chickpeas but also bulgur in a 1:1 ratio.
3. When preparing chickpeas and/or bulgur it's best to soak it for at least 8 hours to allow for easier heat treatment.
4. Unlike ground onions and garlic, which need to be a homogenous mixture, a chickpea puree can have small lumps.
5. When preparing dough for falafels it's a must to let it sit about 2 hours covered with a towel or foil.
6. When frying falafels, put plenty of oil in the pan so that they can fry evenly without having to flip them over as this may ruin their shape.
7. After you fry the falafels it's best to leave them on paper towels to drain so they aren't too greasy.
8. Even though the shape of falafels has nothing to do with their taste, it's always a good idea to get an Arabic falafel press if you can. It is tube-shaped with a spring at the back end. The falafel dough is stuffed into the tube with a spoon and after the mechanism is squeezed the falafel comes out fully formed and ready for frying.
9. Cooked falafels have to be served in one big container, not in portions. That way, everyone can take as many as they like.
Check out these irresistible falafel recipes: homemade falafels, falafels with coriander, falafels with sesame seeds, falafels with peas.