Falafel is the national dish of both Israel and Egypt, though it is eaten everywhere in the Arab world. It is a coarse paste of chick peas (garbanzo beans), or chick peas and field beans, that is spiced, shaped into small pieces, and deep-fried. Arab falafel is darker-colored and shaped like a tiny patty; Israeli falafel is golden brown and globular.
Falafel is eaten as a snack, packed in pita bread with plenty of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. It is generally accompanied by a hot sauce containing fenugreek, a bitter herb. A similar sauce can be made by mixing Tabasco or similar pepper sauce with tomato sauce. Bulgur (partially cooked cracked wheat) can be bought at Greek or Middle Eastern stores.
1 cup chick peas, soaked overnight in water to cover
1 slice white bread, crust removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup bulgur, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
oil for deep-frying
1. Drain and rinse the chick peas in fresh water. Grind them in a food processor or blender, putting them through twice if necessary to make a coarse paste.
2. Soak the bread in water, and squeeze it dry by hand. Chop it with the minced garlic and the parsley. Add this mixture to the chick peas. Add the bulgur, spices, and salt and mix well. Leave in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. In a deep-fat fryer, preferably with a frying basket, heat the oil to very hot, about 350°F, or until a cube of bread will brown in 60 seconds. Wet your hands and shape the mixture into small balls about the size of a walnut.
4. Deep-fry the balls a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Remove with a skimmer and transfer to absorbent paper to drain in a warm place.
5. Serve immediately with mixed salad. Falafel are best when eaten very fresh. Do not store.
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