Mexican Falafel Recipe

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Having enjoyed Israeli falafel for many years, it occurred to me that the basic ingredients of falafel, namely the fried chickpea concoction could be flavored with many different seasonings, not just the usual Middle Eastern ones. So, here is my take on Mexican falafel.

This falafel can be served in a pita bread or it works just as well folded into a warm flour tortilla, like a burrito or taco. I highly recommend purchasing a falafel maker, usually available at Middle Eastern grocery stores. A falafel maker is a spring loaded kitchen device that helps you shape the falafel into uniformly shaped disks, which you can then eject directly into the oil.

Ingredients:

1 cup dried chickpeas, (garbanzo beans) soaked overnight, cooked for ½ hour, then drained
OR
1 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoon plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 medium eggs
2 Tablespoons, finely chopped parsley
½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning or ½ of a package of Lawry’s taco seasoning mix
vegetable oil for deep-frying
Pita breads, or flour tortillas, heated on a dry skillet
Optional Garnishes:

tomatoes, diced
shredded lettuce
chopped scallions
shredded cheese (Mexican mix)
pickled nacho (jalapeño) rings
thinly sliced radishes
fresh salsa (pico del gallo)
fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Put the chickpeas in a 2-quart soup pot, add the water, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
Drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid.
OR if using canned garbanzos, go directly to the next step.

Grind the chickpeas through the coarse blade of a meat grinder or pulse in a food processor.
Add the bread crumbs the 2 Tablespoons flour, the baking powder, pepper garlic, egg, parsley and seasonings and mix well.
Add salt to taste.
The mixture should be the consistency of cooked oatmeal.
If it is too loose, add a little more flour.
Form into 1-inch balls, then flatten each slightly in your hand to make a patty.
In a deep saucepan or a wok, heat 3 inches of oil to 375º F.
Make one falafel ball as a test to determine if it will hold together in the oil. If it tends to fall apart, add a little more flour.
Deep-fry in batches until golden.
Using a skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain.
Tuck into warm pita bread or wrap in a tortilla, along with about 2 Tablespoons each of whichever additions you choose.
Makes 24 – 30 individual falafel balls.

About Rabbi Michael Sternfield

Michael Sternfield has been a Reform rabbi for 40 years, most recently serving at Chicago Sinai Congregation from 1995 until 2013. He served for 20 years as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego, and briefly as the leader of the Durban, South Africa Progressive Jewish Congregation during South Africa’s historic transition to multi-racial democracy. He is now based in Los Angeles, California.