Dear God, how much I adore falafel but how difficult they can be to get right!
After more attempts that I can count, I finally got them perfectly crunchy, golden brown and mad delicious, WITHOUT deep frying too.
It took quite a bit of experimentation (read: failed attempts).
The hardest part was getting the balls to maintain their shape because in previous attempts, they would disintegrate the minute they touch the oil.
In traditional recipes, the spice powders are added to the chickpeas raw and blended. However, taking a leaf from more Asian methods, I saute the spice powders (coriander, cumin and smoked paprika) and the onion in oil before mixing them with the chickpeas, because I feel that the extra time to bloom the spices will increase their aroma.
The trouble is, oil makes everything slippery so the blended mixture doesn’t bind well.
I really wanted to find a way to make this work, and when I found Helen Rennie’s video, it gave me an idea. She adds a bit of flour to help the mixture bind, which isn’t traditional. And she also adds carrots to lend the falafels an extra sweetness. I made them super small too so that I don’t have to use (waste) a lot of oil frying.
Honestly, for me, cooking is all about innovation and application rather than slavish devotion to a recipe, and if the results are tasty, it’s ok to bend a few rules.
Anyway, it worked and these little balls are freaking delicious! You do have to eat them straight away after cooking because the crunchy outside softens quite fast.
This is not quite a recipe, but more of a method/approach as I completely eyeballed everything. However, I wanted to record my findings first as much as possible. I will revisit this “recipe” and add proper measurements the next time I make it.
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Shallow-fried Falafel Balls
- food processor, non-stick saucepan, mixing bowl, deep-bottomed pan for frying
- Dried chickpeas + water
- Coriander leaves
- Olive oil
- Smoked paprika powder
- Cumin powder
- Coriander powder
- Soak dry chickpeas in water for 24 hours. No need to deshell because falafel are supposed to have textural bite.
- Boil carrot in water until soft. Chop onion, coriander leaves and garlic.
- In a pan, heat up some olive oil. Add smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander powders. Let toast for a while. Now add chopped onion and carrot. Toss around until the vegetables are well coated.
- In a food processor, mix chickpeas, flour and cooked vegetable mixture. Season with salt.
- Form little balls. Make them tight and smooth outside to minimise chances of them disintegrating.
- Heat up oil. When hot enough, add in your falafel balls and fry until golden brown.