King of Falafel & Shawarma's Falafel from 'New York a la Cart'

[Photograph: Clay Williams]

I eat a lot of falafel. It can come from a cart, a restaurant, or even a deli case; I don't really discriminate. But I probably should be more picky because most of the falafel isn't great. So much of the falafel out there is greasy and falling apart or dense and dry.

But after making King of Falafel & Shawarma's falafel recipe in Alexandra Penfold and Siobhan Wallace's new cookbook, New York a la Cart, I may stop buying my falafel pre-made (unless of course I happen to be in Astoria and can visit the Falafel King himself).

These falafel are made properly, with soaked dried chickpeas and a whole party of spices. Rolled into small balls and fried for just a few minutes, they emerge crisp-tender and fragrant. They're perfect in pita sandwiches or eaten one by one, with your hands, dipped into a giant bowl of tahini.

Why I picked this recipe: Falafel is probably my favorite street food. Making this version was a no-brainer.

What worked: Each of these falafel's deep brown and crunchy exteriors gives way to a warm, fragrant, and tender center. They're fairly easy to make, and miles better than the leaden pucks masquerading as food in many a Middle Eastern wrap.

What didn't: I couldn't eek out 24 falafels from the recipe (more like 18), and they cooked a bit more quickly than advertised (4 minutes instead of 5). If you're a big falafel eater (or feeding a crowd) double up on the recipe for sure.

Suggested tweaks: You can fry these and reheat them in the oven if necessary. 350 for 8 to 10 minutes does the trick. As written, the falafels are fairly spicy; if you're looking to tone it down, reduce the chili flakes to 1/4 or 1/8 teaspoon.

Reprinted with permission from New York a la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks by Alexandra Penfold and Siobhan Wallace. Copyright 2013. Published by Running Press, an imprint of The Perseus Books Group. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

King of Falafel & Shawarma's Falafel from 'New York a la Cart'

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About This Recipe

Yield:makes 20-24 falafels
Active time:45 minutes
Total time:12 hours
This recipe appears in: King of Falafel & Shawarma's Falafel from 'New York a la Cart'

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 medium-sized onion, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 3 springs of fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon red hot pepper flakes or 1 whole hot chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups vegetable oil for deep frying

Procedures

  1. 1

    Pick out foreign matter from the peas before placing them in a large bowl, cover generously with water and soak uncovered, at room temperature overnight, adding more water if necessary.

  2. 2

    Drain peas, and place them along with the other ingredients and 2 tablespoons water in a food processor. Pulse until the peas are finely ground, about the size of couscous. Roll about 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball between your palms.

  3. 3

    Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot to 350°F. Carefully deep fry each ball until golden brown, about 5 minutes each. They will fall to the bottom and rise during the frying. Serve hot stuffed in a pita or by themselves, covered in tahini sauce.

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