When I was 10 years old, I traveled to Ireland with my grandma and my aunt. We drove along the southern half of Ireland, stopping at castles, landmarks and B&B’s.
As a kid, of course I didn’t appreciate the trip as I should have. Food was weird, people talked funny and none of the places we stayed had TVs.
I did however understand what it meant to see things that were completely outside of my own little suburban world.
I learned that meeting strangers didn’t have to be intimidating, feelings of homesickness go away, and sometimes you have to try weird food to respect your hosts. It was all uncomfortable and wonderful at the same time.
Traveling to Israel as a young adult brought back those same feelings. More intense, because I didn’t have the safety net of family members with me.
At age 21, I distinctly remember the feeling of just waiting for people to tell me what to do – do your homework, go to college, get an internship… I’d just sorta waited for the next thing to happen to me, rather than making moves for myself.
Though I was in a group of people, I felt very much along as we traveled throughout Israel. Adulthood settled in – I did not have family or friends alongside me to tell me what to do, what to see or what to feel.
This Israel trip allowed me to trust in myself, that I alone could decide what felt right and what felt wrong. Trust that I was going to be okay, even in the uncomfortable moments of uncertainty.
One of those uncomfortable and wonderful moments was ordering Falafel for the first time. The vendor did not speak English and I was in a group of loud Americans. You can imagine the judgement that followed.
But they were friendly enough and served us Falafel – in a pita with fresh veggies, hummus and french fries. And omg talk about a life-changing meal.
If you’ve tried to make Falafel at home you know it’s a futile attempt. It never tastes as good as a restaurant and the leftover oil is a pain in the ass to deal with.
Two things about this post:
Because we’re using dried chickpeas, the texture of the falafel is perfect. The outside is crispy and the inside isn’t too dry or too wet.
Don’t skip any of the spices, because the flavor is perfect. The only thing I changed from the recipe in Jerusalem, is adding an absurd amount of sesame seeds to the outside of the Falafel. Never too many sesame seeds, ever.
(start making 12 hours before you want Falafel)
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water. Cover and set aside in your fridge over night.
The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place the chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro in a food processor. Blend until finely chopped but not mushy or pasty. Once processed, add the spices, baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt, flour and water. Mix well by hand until uniform. Cover the mixture and place in the fridge for an hour or until ready to use.
Fill a deep, heavy pot with enough oil to come up about 2-3 inches up the sides of the pot. Heat the oil to 350F.
If you don’t have a thermometer, do a test falafel before you keep going. Each falafel will need 4 minutes to brown – anything more or less adjust your heat.
With wet hands, press 1 Tbsp of the mixture into your hand and form ball. Roll around in sesame seeds and deep fry them in batches – 4 minutes each. The falafel will be well browned but not burnt. Drain on a paper towel.
Eat with sumac sauce or hummus!