Sunday, September 18, 2011

Falafel & Pita Bread

OH. MY. WORD.  I cannot believe my luck in stumbling upon this recipe.  This is far and away one of the best meals I have ever made!  Wowza!  I can't even begin to describe the party that ensued in my mouth after the first bite...crisp on the outside, soft in the middle.  Perfection.

The thing is, I was in a foul foul mood when I started cooking this meal.  Anna had refused to sleep the night before, I have a cold, it was a busy busy day.  I wanted to plunk on the couch, watch a movie and whine.  But, as usual, cooking worked its magic and energized me.  I started kneading the dough, pulsing my food processor, and suddenly I was singing and dancing around the kitchen.  Brother forming falafel balls behind me and Anna tugging at my apron. 

This wasn't a difficult meal to make, but you do need to have some forethought in planning it.  You need to soak the beans overnight and the pita bread needs a good two hours to rise.  So, this is a good weekend project if you are going to make it all fresh.  Alternately, the pitas would freeze well and you could have them on hand and pull them out in the morning.  I think the falafel would freeze well too, but haven't tried it yet.  I'll let you know if I do.  See note below in recipe...these DO freeze well!  Fried right out of the freezer.

According to Reeni, of Cinnamon Girl, do not even bother with canned beans.  Its dried beans ,or bust!  I didn't contemplate it for even a second after her tirade against canned beans and her mention of several failed attempts.  I will learn from her mistakes here and save myself the pain.

The falafel are deep fried, but don't let this deter you from making this recipe.  The key to deep frying is keeping the oil hot enough (350-375 degrees) that things don't get soggy and absorb too much oil, so a thermometer is a must.  And also, a deepish pot (not a skillet) is essential so the oil doesn't spatter.  It's easy though, I promise!!  You just have to give is a little love.  Awww...


Its really important to have good helpers too, to direct you along the way!

Falafel & Tzatziki

Adapted from Saveur & Cinnamon Girl


2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp fresh dill
1 cup Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas
1 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp flour
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin (I love me some cumin, so adjust accordingly if you don't)
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
Salt, to taste
Canola oil, for frying
Warm pita, for serving (recipe below)


Make the sauce: Place all ingredients in a food processor except the yogurt.  Pulse until smooth.  Add yogurt and pulse until just combined.  Don't overdo it, or the sauce will get too runny (trust me, I know).

Make the falafel: In a medium bowl soak chickpeas in cold water overnight (8+ hours). Drain water and place chickpeas in a food processor with parsley, flour, coriander, cumin, garlic and onions. Pulse mixture until it is well combined but still coarse in texture.  Salt to taste. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes. Use a spoon to portion the mixture into 2-inch balls. *Make Ahead instructions below.
Pour 2" oil into a heavy sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat until a thermometer reads 350˚. Working in batches, fry falafel balls, turning occasionally, until they float and turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer falafel to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Before frying the next batch make sure your oil is back up to 350˚.

Serve in pita with the tzatziki sauce. This is also good with feta, tomatoes and lettuce for fixings.

*MAKE AHEAD:  At this point, put falafel balls on freezer-safe tray lined with parchment paper and freeze at least 3 hours.  Once frozen put in a freezer-safe container and store for up to 2 months.  When you are ready to use follow frying instructions above and you have a delicious homemade meal!

Pita Bread

Adapted from Cinnamon Girl

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil


Stir together yeast and 1¼ cups warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fited with dough hook attachment, and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add oil to yeast and then add flour mixture.  Knead on medium speed until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Punch down dough and divide into 8 equal pieces, knead each into a ball. Place balls on a floured surface, lightly spray with cooking oil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Heat a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, transfer to a work surface and roll into a 6-7″ circle, brush with oil and add to skillet, oiled side down, brush top with oil. Cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 2–3 minutes.  *Make Ahead instructions below.


*MAKE AHEAD: Allow pita bread to cool and then put into freezer bag or other freezer-safe container and store up to two months.  When you are ready to use, take them out of the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for at least 3 hours.


  1. Your pita bread is pretty and puffy--I wouldn't have expected that from cooking it in a skillet. I usually bake mine. I might have to try this. :)

  2. That looks like the most wonderful pita bread! :) I'm not huge on falafel themselves, but tzaziki and pita? Most definitely!

  3. Falafel is really good. I love all things chickpea.Sending some buzz on foodbuzz tonight.


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