Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Feasts: Falafels and Pita

My favorite cuisine is Mediterranean. I love grilled meats and vegetables, olive oil, breads, spices and fresh herbs. I had my first falafel at the Falafel King in Westwood, just outside of the UCLA campus. Unforgettable.

We try to have falafels one a month at home. We have used the Near East falafel mix but our local Walmart doesn't carry it so when we had a hankering for falafels we did the next best thing - find a recipe on the internet. Homemade falafels are easy and so much tastier than the powdered mix. Here's a recipe:
In the food processor combine:
1 can garbanzo/chick peas (drained)
1/2 C. chopped onion
1 T. chopped parsley
1 T. chopped cilantro
1/2 t. salt
1/2-1 t. dried hot red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1-1 1/2 t. cumin
1 t. baking powder
3-5 T. flour

Pulse till combine.Heat oil in pan, about 3 inches. Make sure oil is 375 degrees. Form into walnut-size balls with  damp hands. The mix is a bit sticky to it works best if you wet your hands first. Fry balls about 6 at a time for a few minutes on every side. Place on paper towel for oil to drain.

Along with the falafels you must have fresh pita bread. This is easy too, just like making pizza dough. For about 12 pitas you'll need:
2 c. warm water
4 t. yeast
2 t. salt
5 T. brown sugar
5 t. olive oil
6-7 C. flour
In your mixer (with a dough hook) combine the water yeast and sugar. Make sure the yeast is alive by letting this sit for about 10 minutes. If it's all bubbly it's ALIVE. Add the salt and and 6 C. flour. Mix and perhaps add more flour if sticky. As the flour is blending in pour in olive oil. Mix this for 5-10 minutes. Pull out of bowl and form into a ball. Spray the bowl with cooking spray. Place the ball of dough back into the bowl and spray with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 1-2 hours. About 30 minutes before the dough has risen preheat the oven to 425. Place your cookie sheet or pizza pan in oven to heat up. Punch down and separate into 12 balls. Let sit for 10-20 minutes. On a well floured surface roll each ball out to about 6-8 inches. Make sure each pita is coated well in flour. Let these sit for another 10 minutes. Place 3-4 pitas on the hot pan in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, they cook fast. Eat that day. They don't keep very well after a day but they do make good pizza base, top with sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Grill for 5-10 minutes


Paul Merrill said...

Ooooo - that looks yummy!

hannah said...

I love, love, LOVE Middle Eastern food!!!! We have it every Christmas Eve... at the VERY least.