Today is the annual celebration of the favorite Middle Eastern fried chickpea treat, the falafel. Though Israel, of course, is known in the Bible as the “land of milk and honey,” falafel is among the most popular foods in Israel and is sold on street corners in every city and town. Some even call it the “Israeli hamburger.” Students living on a meager budget can consume full-portion falafels in whole pitas as their noon “dinner.” Its popularity can be attributed in no small part to the Yemenite Jews who have brought a particularly tasty version onto the culinary scene.
If you can’t find a falafel restaurant in your neighborhood, why not make your own? Here’s an easy recipe so you too can celebrate International Falafel Day:
1 lb. canned chick-peas (drained)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbs. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 to 1 cup breadcrumbs or fine bulgar (crushed wheat)
1 tsp. ground coriander or cumin
1 tsp. dried hot red peppers
1 tsp. garlick powder
vegetable oil (for frying)
Combine chick-peas with onion. Add parsley, lightly beaten egg and spices. Mix in blender. Add breadcrumbs until mixture forms a small ball without sticking to your hands. Form chick-pea mixture into small balls about the size of a quarter (one inch in diameter). Flatten patties slightly and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain falafel balls on paper towels. Serve individually with toothpicks as an hors d’oeuvre or as a sandwich filling with chopped tomato, cucumber, radish, lettuce, onion, hummus and/or tehina inside pita bread. Makes about 24 falafel balls.