Saturday, October 31, 2015

New York Cooking - Falafel

Fresh Homemade Falafels

In 1992, Molly O’Neill released the amazing New York Cookbook. This wonderful tome documented the international flavor of New York City food. The book is as much a research project into the history of New York City and its immigrants as it is a collection of recipes.

I have always enjoyed cooking and when I saw the movie Julie and Julia I knew that I had mission for when I retired – to cook through this book. I will not make the promise of cooking ALL of the food presented (I can’ eat eels, or tripe) but I will come close and I will share my results and thoughts here, because my growth in the kitchen is part of my personal travels in the 2nd Half.

Moshe’s Falafels

Anyone who has been to the Middle East, or just to a middle-eastern restaurant has most likely had a falafel. For those who haven’t, a falafel is a ball or patty made of ground chickpeas with spices. While some places use fava beans, the standard in NYC is chickpeas. According to the book Egyptian Food and Drink by Hillary Wilson, falafels date back to the time of the pharaohs in Egypt. It is sold throughout the Middle East as street food, and that is how I developed my love for falafels, although it was on the Upper West Side.  When I was a student at The City College of New York in the early 1980’s there were several food trucks that parked on campus. This was before food trucks were trendy, and before the company that ran the cafeteria in the NAC had the school force them off campus. One of the trucks sold the best falafel pits sandwiches. The falafels were fried fresh when you ordered them, so they were never over cooked or dry. topped with a generous salad and tasty sauce. For $2.95 you got a filling sandwich and salad.

The recipe in NY Cookbook is credited to Moshe Mizrahi, a street vendor in NY, so you know that this is the real thing, not a fancy redone dish for a restaurant.

Cooking Falafels

This was an easy starting point for this cookbook. Falafels are easy to make, with the biggest time factor being the creation of the ground chick-pea mixture. 

Chick-peas in the food processor

Chick-peas, onions garlic and parsley

Falafel mixture
Some things that I had not thought of before:
First, When you soak a pound of chick-peas they approximately quadruple in volume. This meant that I had to break the grinding up into 4 parts. Second, The picture shown above was for half of the recipe, it was enough for 2 people to have a full dinner or four to have lunch.

The frying was easy enough, I cooked batches of 4-5 falafels at a time in about an inch of Avocado oil. we have been using this instead of  vegetable of canola oil, and it tastes delicious. You have to keep an eye on the falafels as you do this, because they will cook fairly quickly and you don't want tot over do them.

Finished Falafels

Sesame Sauce from the NY Cookbook

Food on the table
 So why make fresh falafels when there is falafel mix available in the store? These were the moistest falafels that I have eaten in a long time. The seasoning was fresh and tasty. Start to finish it took about an hour, most of that was prep time, about 20 at the stove cooking.


1 comment:

  1. The meal was delicious, far fresher and tastier than anything you could ever get from a box. And I really appreciated knowing exactly what I was eating. No mysterious additives or preservatives. Chef Jon did a great job (and he even cleaned up after himself). I'm proud of him and the meal he served with so much pride. What's up next?