Homemade Falafels

Homemade Falafels

Falafels are traditional Middle Eastern deep fried patties or balls made from chickpeas, fava beans, or both.  They’re usually found stuffed in Pita bread or rolled in a flatbread along with fresh and pickled veggies and topped with a tahini sauce, that’s a Falafel Sandwich.  They are also eaten with fried eggs, hummus, babaganouj, and pickles for breakfast or served as mezzes and snacks.

My first encounter with falafels was at a kiosk in New York city where I grew up.  Buying a falafel sandwich from this kiosk was a treat when we spent the day at the near by park.  Then my family moved to Hawaii in the mid-70’s where there were no kiosks selling “ethnic” foods and so I didn’t have falafels again until I married my husband who is of Palestinian decent.  Imagine his surprise when I told him I actually knew what falafels were!

As newlyweds in Hawaii we had to figure out how to make falafels at home; as I new bride I had no clue!  Remember back in the 80’s there was no google, no pinterest, no instagram, or any kind of internet that would find a recipe in seconds.  I had to rely on cookbooks from the library, not really helpful.

Then we found a box of falafel mix at a local health food store.  Just add water and fry.  It wasn’t the best, but we made do.  I started experimenting with the boxed mix and found that adding finely chopped fresh parsley improved the taste.  Started adding more spices and pretty soon I figured I may as well by pass the mix and make it from scratch.   That didn’t go so well until I managed to buy a food processor, now I was in business!

As I was exploring the makings for falafel from scratch we started traveling all over the world.  Of course travel opens up your life to different places, foods, and cultures and our travels in the Middle East definitely helped my falafel making.  We loved the falafel sandwiches at Mr. Falfala in Cairo and the ones found on the streets of Diera in Dubai.  But nothing beats the fresh falafels served at Hashem’s and Abu Jbarra in Jordan!  On our last trip to Dubai this year we discovered that Abu Jbarra opened a place by the Dubai Mall, we ate brunch there almost everyday!

Anyway those trips to Egypt, Dubai, and Jordan whetted my desire to make falafels at home that would be close to the ones served in the places we loved.  I say close because I doubt I’ll ever figure out the exact match to Hashem’s falafels served in this little alley in downtown Amman.

I make large batches of falafels so that I have enough to freeze for future use.  Raw falafel paste freezes beautifully!  This way I don’t have to haul out the food processor every time I want to fry falafels and I always have some handy when  I have a yen for a falafel sandwich.

I’ve found that using fresh ingredients makes the difference between decent falafels and amazing ones!  So I use fresh cilantro, parsley, and dill as my primary seasonings; they will turn your mixture green, but the greener the falafel is the better it tastes in my opinion.  I also use dry chickpeas never canned.

It takes a bit of planning to make really great falafels, but believe me it’s so worth the effort!

Fresh Falafel

Ingredients:

8 oz. Dried Chickpeas (1/2 a bag)

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 Large bunch of Fresh Cilantro, rinsed and dried on paper towel

1 Large Bunch of Fresh American Parsley, rinsed and dried on paper towel

1 Small Bunch of Fresh Dill, rinsed and dried on paper towel

2 Tbs. Fresh Garlic, minced

1 Tbs. Cumin Powder

1 Tbs. Ground Coriander

1 Tbs. Sea Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

Oil for frying

Pita or Flat Bread

Optional Condiments: Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, pickled beets, tahini sauce, thousand island dressing, or what ever you want to add in the sandwich

Directions:

Pour dried chickpeas into a bowl and mix in baking soda.

Cover with water and soak overnight.

Rinse chickpeas in cool water and drain in a colander.

In a food processor load in this order:

Cilantro leaves and stems (you don’t have to use all the stems but do use the leaves), Parsley, Dill (prepare and use Parsley and Dill the same way as Cilantro).

Drained chickpeas and garlic

Dried spices (cumin, coriander, salt, pepper)

Turn on processor and grind until it is a paste

If freezing place paste into freezer safe containers and freeze.  Thaw before cooking.

If using immediately:

Heat about 2″ of oil in a small pot.

Add baking soda to falafel paste and combine well.

Test that oil is hot enough by dropping a small amount of falafel paste in; if oil starts bubbling around the paste your oil is ready for frying.

Form paste into small 1″ balls or patties and drop into hot oil.

Fry until all sides are brown, cooked falafel will float.

Drain on paper towels and serve as a sandwich filling or by itself for breakfast or as mezzes.


Homemade Falafels
Print Recipe
Homemade Falafels
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

I love Mexican food but Enchiladas were never one of my favorites.  I tried to love it, but something about it just wasn’t working for me.  It took me a while, but I finally realized what wasn’t working was the canned Enchilada Sauces I found at the grocery store.

Sure there are several brands out there, in fact it got quite confusing.  But no matter which sauce I bought it simply didn’t taste good to me or for that matter the rest of the family didn’t find them that great either.  They much preferred the Enchilada Sauce they would order from the Mexican restaurant.  There aren’t that many really good Mexican restaurants in Honolulu so I had to find a way to make homemade Enchiladas just as good as the ones we found at the few restaurants we like.  And since we didn’t care for the canned sauce then clearly the only option was homemade sauce.

So I started trying to figure out just how to make Enchilada Sauce and the first thing I learned is that there are not tomatoes in any way shape or form in Enchilada Sauce.  I  was surprised and so was everyone in the family!  That’s right no tomatoes in Enchilada Sauce!  Of course I’m talking about the RED Enchilada Sauce, I’ve yet to make the green variety.  But I will and once I get it right I’ll share that too!

So what’s in Enchilada Sauce you ask?  Chicken or Veggie Stock (the veggie stock is great if you want a vegan version), Roux, and spices.  That’s it!  And to make it even better it’s super easy to make, it takes less than half an hour!  I make a pot of it and store the sauce in jars in the fridge.  The longer it sits in the fridge the better the sauce tastes.  So now my fridge is always stocked with homemade Enchilada Sauce along with my  Marinara Sauce!  I spend a morning once a month to re-stock, that way I’ll always have my favorite 2 sauces on hand.

You can use this Enchilada Sauce on anything you want.  Pour it over your favorite meats and roll in tortillas for delicious enchiladas or use it in a casserole.  I use it on my Keto friendly Chicken or Steak Enchiladas, they come out great.  Whatever you use it on it will turn out delicious!

Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

4 Tbs. Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Flour

1/2 Cup Chili Powder

1 Tbs. Garlic Powder

1 Tbs. Cumin Powder

1 Tbs. Dried Oregano

1 Quart Chicken or Vegetable Stock

Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat Olive Oil in a medium saucepan

Whisk in flour to make a blond roux, be careful not to burn the flour

Whisk in the spices except the salt

Slowly pour in the stock while whisking to blend the spices and roux in to it

Add salt to taste

Simmer for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened

Use with your favorite meats or veggies or pour into jars and store in the fridge.

This recipe will make enough to fill 1 quart jar and almost 1 pint jar.  If storing sauce pour into jars and cool before covering with a tight lid and placing in the fridge.

 

Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
5 Pints 20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
5 Pints 20 Minutes
Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
5 Pints 20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
5 Pints 20 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Pints
Instructions
  1. Heat Olive Oil in a medium saucepan
  2. Whisk in flour to make a blond roux, be careful not to burn the flour
  3. Whisk in the spices except the salt
  4. Slowly pour in the stock while whisking to blend the spices and roux in to it
  5. Add salt to taste
  6. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened
  7. Use with your favorite meats or veggies or pour into jars and store in the fridge.
Recipe Notes

This recipe will make about 5 pints.  That's enough to fill 1 Quart size jar and almost 1 pint size jar.  Cool before covering tightly and storing in the fridge.

Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Since returning from our summer vacation in Jordan and Dubai we’ve had a yen for the popular sandwich served everywhere in the Middle East, the ever popular Chicken Shawarma.

Shawarma is really meat, beef, chicken, veal, turkey, lamb, or a mixture of meats, grilled on a vertical spit; pretty much like how the Greeks prepare Gyros.  You see these spits almost on every corner around Amman.  This sandwich or plates are available from the corner snack shop to the food courts in the malls to even the high end restaurants around town.  They range in price from about $1 to $5 depending on where you buy it; but regardless of where you buy and how much you pay you’re almost sure to walk away with something delicious.

At home in Hawaii finding shawarma is nearly impossible, we have very few Greek restaurants and even fewer Middle Eastern ones.  I’m sure we’ve tried them all; some are adequate, but most we’ve found lacking.  The only way to get good Middle Eastern food is to make it at home.

So how was I supposed to make my favorite chicken shawarma?  I don’t own a vertical spit and wasn’t about to buy one; frankly I doubt I’d ever figure out how to use it.  Surely there was an easier way to make this yummy dish using equipment I already own, namely my stove.  I looked online and found several recipes that called for either oven roasting the chicken or frying it on the stove.   I didn’t care how it was cooked as long as it tasted good.  After experimenting with different spices I finally came up with a recipe that my husband says is almost exactly like the chicken shawarma we enjoyed in Amman.

Really the secret is in the marinade, that’s what makes the chicken tender and gives it that tangy spicy flavor.  I marinate the chicken over night, roast it in the oven, then make the sandwich on fresh pita with veggies and that oh so yummy garlic sauce.  The sauce is really a must for this sandwich, to learn how to make it click here.

Shawarma sandwiches are great for lunch, dinner, or snacks.  Really I can eat them all day long!  My grandsons love them too!

My recipe uses FULL FAT Greek Yogurt – I’ve tried it with the non-fat or low-fat yogurts, it doesn’t come out as tender.

Marinade Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken tenderloins – cut in half lengthwise
2 tbls. minced garlic
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp.  paprika
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 cup FULL FAT Greek yogurt

Sandwich Ingredients:

Fresh Pita or French bread
Garlic Sauce
Tomato slices
Cucumber slices
Sour Pickles

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a ziplock bag.
Put chicken pieces in bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Place marinated chicken on parchment covered baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes – turning chicken half-way thru the cooking time.

When the chicken is cooked put your sandwich together.  You can either cut the pita in half to form pockets you stuff with the chicken and other sandwich fixings or you can place all the fixings on top of the whole pita then roll it up tortilla style.  When I roll it up I like to wrap the bottom half in parchment or wax paper to keep the sandwich together.  Of course if you’re packing them to take along then it’s easier to roll them and wrap them in paper.

Which ever way you put the sandwich together first spread some of the garlic sauce on the bread – then put in the chicken and veggies then drizzle the whole thing with more garlic sauce.

It’s really yummy!  Enjoy!

For my Beef Shawarma Recipe click here!

Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Ingredients
Marinade
Sandwich Fixings
Servings: Sandwiches
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a ziplock bag.
  2. Put chicken pieces in bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Place marinated chicken on parchment covered baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes - turning chicken half-way thru the cooking time.
Recipe Notes

When the chicken is cooked put your sandwich together. You can either cut the pita in half to form pockets you stuff with the chicken and other sandwich fixings or you can place all the fixings on top of the whole pita then roll it up tortilla style. When I roll it up I like to wrap the bottom half in parchment or wax paper to keep the sandwich together. Of course if you're packing them to take along then it's easier to roll them and wrap them in paper.

Which ever way you put the sandwich together first spread some of the garlic sauce on the bread - then put in the chicken and veggies then drizzle the whole thing with more garlic sauce.

Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe