I live in a town where our only options for falafel are a $15 lunch-only dish at a vegan restaurant or one that’s served with a side of bachelorette parties swapping spit via a puff, puff, pass rental hookah and boatloads of cotton-topped tourists ogling the bellydancer. I decided to learn how to make falafel. This recipe for Falafel Pita adapted from The Sugar Hit has saved me a grip of cash and the embarrassment of slipping a dollar bill into the belly chain of table-side entertainment.
I came to Santa Barbara from two of the foodiest cities in the country, Portland and then the Bay Area. Things here tend to taste as blonde as the co-eds and surfers that reside here. In my opinion, the best falafel in the country comes out of a food truck called Liba Falafel that travels throughout the Bay Area, chuckwagon style, with the tastiest bandwagon of food trucks around, Off The Grid. The same week that we moved to Santa Barbara, Liba Falafel opened its brick and mortar cafe in downtown Oakland. Great news for Oaklanders, and an insult to injury for this falafel fan.
I’ve tried a bunch of falafel recipes, hoping they might emulate those deep fried flavor balls but nothing has struck my fancy quite like this recipe for Falafel Pita adapted from The Sugar Hit. Sarah’s recipe hits all of the falafel highs; crunchy outside with a soft, flavorful interior, fresh, salty, tangy and spicy toppings all wrapped up in a fluffy cloud-like pita.
You could use a store bought pita, but if you’re going to go through all of the trouble to make the fried falafel, you should probably just go the extra mile and make my recipe for Pita Bread with Tzatziki Sauce. Store-bought ain’t got nothing on a puffy fresh, steamy pillow of pita.
Using the recipe for Falafel Pita adapted from The Sugar Hit, I modified things slightly by adding herby fresh parsley and a spicy jalapeño into the mix, plus the nutty crunch of sesame seeds and aromatic spices. I also love to slather my falafels with too much tzatziki sauce instead of hummus or tahini, but you can do whatever you like. I also never can plan ahead enough to soak dried beans, so I use canned garbanzo beans and they work just fine. I make a full batch of pita dough and falafel and freeze them once both are shaped so I can have a middle eastern feast again soon with much less effort.
Even if you haven’t found yourself in an overpriced flavor desert like me, this recipe for Falafel Pita adapted from The Sugar Hit is sure hit you right in the falafel balls and leave you begging for more.
- chickpeas (garbanzo beans) - 2 (15 oz) cans
- large red onion - 1/2
- fresh cilantro - 1/2 cup
- fresh parsley - 3/4 cup
- sesame seeds - 1 tablespoon
- sea salt - 1 1/2 teaspoons
- cumin - 1 teaspoon
- dried coriander - 1 teaspoon
- harissa spice - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
- red pepper spice - 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
- garlic cloves - 3
- jalapeño - 1 deseeded (optional)
- baking powder - 1 1/2 teaspoons
- all purpose flour - 3-4 tablespoons
- grape seed oil for frying
- TO SERVE/TOPPINGS: all optional
- Fresh Pita Bread and Tzatziki recipe: http://bakingthegoods.com/2015/01/14/pita-bread-with-tzatziki-sauce/
- chopped red leaf lettuce
- feta cheese
- chopped cucumber
- pickled carrots
- chopped onion
- If using my recipe for Pita Bread with Tzatziki, prepare first using this recipe: http://bakingthegoods.com/2015/01/14/pita-bread-with-tzatziki-sauce/
- Drain the chickpeas from the can and rinse, place into the bowl of a food processor with all the remaining falafel ingredients.
- Pulse the mixture until the chickpeas are small and the mixture just starts to become smooth. To test the mixture, turn off the processor, remove the lid and take a spoonful of the mixture. If you squeeze it in your hand it should hold together in a ball, but will collapse if you poke it. If the mixture does not hold together add a little more flour, or if it is too dry, a little water, scrape down the processor and pulse again, until you get a texture that will hold together. Scoop 2 tablespoon sized balls, roll until smooth. Place on a cookie sheet and gently flatten into a thick patty. Chill the falafel while you prepare the rest.
- Prepare your veggies, toppings and sauces so things are ready to pile on when the falafel is done cooking.
- Pour just under 2 inches of oil into a high sided frying pan, and place over medium heat, bringing it up to 350F/180C.
- Carefully place the falafel patties, a few at a time, into the hot oil, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook the falafel until they are golden brown and cooked through, a couple of minutes on each side. Cut one open to ensure they are cooked all the way through. Place on a paper towel lined baking sheet once cooked.
- Overstuff your fresh baked pita with hot falafel patties, tangy tzatziki, and all your favorite falafel fixins! Enjoy the mess and the deep fried falafel flavors.
- My version of Pita Falafel is adapted from The Sugar Hit's Pita Falafel.
- In my version, I use canned chickpeas because I always seem to have them on hand. You can use either dried or canned chickpeas.
- I also incorporate fresh parsley, a jalapeño, sesame seeds, harissa and red pepper spices. I serve my version with my fresh made Pita and Tzatziki found on Baking The Goods: http://bakingthegoods.com/2015/01/14/pita-bread-with-tzatziki-sauce/
- Falafel is a versatile food that can be served in a warm pita as a sandwich, on top of a salad or alone as a snack. Do it up however you like!