I have always liked chickpeas and use them a lot in cooking but have usually taken the short cut and bought the bottled versions, which are, in my opinion, infinitely superior to tinned chickpeas. However, a while back I was looking to make some falafel and the recipe called for dried chickpeas, as their dry texture work much better than tinned or bottled ones which are too sloppy. So I decided to have another go, my first attempt with rehydrating dried chickpeas was a lot of bother for very little gain! I don’t know why that was as I always use dried lingot beans successfully!
Anyhow the Bio-coop sells chickpeas ‘en vrac’ which I recommend buying as the turn over is higher than packets. And I have now been converted so there is no looking back. Admittedly you do need to plan in advance when you use dried beans, although it is possible to cook them without soaking, it just takes a long, long time! The taste and texture is infinitely superior, and as many of us have the time now, it might well be the moment to experiment!
2 handfuls of fresh herbs, choose from at least two – parsley, coriander, mint and dill
1 small red onion
4 large garlic cloves
1tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander, mild chili
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
The day before measure out 2 cups of dried chickpeas and put into a large bowl with the bicarbonate* and cover with plenty of fresh water. Set aside for at least 12 hours.
The next day drain the chickpeas, pat dry and put into a food processor with all bar the last two ingredients.
Pulse until well combined.
Pop into the fridge to chill for an hour.**
Remove from the fridge and add the baking powder and sesame seeds, stir well to combine.
Get two lined baking trays ready and wash your hands but do not dry as it is easier to form the balls with damp hands.
Make the falafel by rolling (roughly) a dessert spoons worth of mix in between your palms. They should be the size of a golf ball, however as long as they are all the same size for cooking it doesn’t really matter if you make smaller or larger balls.
Chill until you are ready to cook.
To cook you want to deep fat fry rather than shallow fry to achieve that lovely crunchy exterior without burning. It is worth noting that, as long as your oil is the correct heat, less fat is absorbed by this method than shallow frying. Always test first with a bit of stale bread.
Try not to overcrowd the pan, pop 4 or 5 in at a time gently turning to ensure that they brown evenly. They should take about 4 minutes to cook through.
If you are eating immediately keep the cooked falafel warm in the oven whilst you fry the rest. These do reheat well.
I served these with a squeeze of lemon juice, a roasted tomato sauce (I am still enjoying last years tomatoes!), tzatziki, hummus, a black pearl lentil and onion salad and pitta bread.
By using dried chickpeas the falafel holds together much better than with processed peas, however the have a dryer texture and so really need a sauce to accompany them.
Serve with a herby red light in tannin and no oak (cumin turns oak flavours bitter and acrid). We had Laurent Miquel’s Kinsale 2017, a fresh and elegant, herby Faugères.
*The last two times I made these I actually forgot to put the bicarbonate into the soaking chickpeas and it didn’t seem to matter, but it is propertied to help with soften dried beans and prevent wind!!!
**You can form the falafel straight away but they crumble less if you chill the mix first.