As may be true in Cairo, Beirut or Jerusalem, a falafel sandwich is and remains some of Detroit’s favorite street food. Growing up in Dearborn, Michigan (largest population of Middle Eastern peoples outside of the Middle East), I was never more than 10 minutes away from a fresh, hot, falafel. Every summer, my friends and I would ride our bikes to wait in line at a local, mom and pop, family-run falafel stand. Today, a bite of these crunchy, intensely flavorful patties, combined with cool garnishes, and folded into a fresh pita takes me home and to my childhood.
But as life progressed and I moved away, nowhere else in the Midwest, the South, or on the West Coast could I find a falafel as delicious as in my hometown.
Inspired by the homemade pita recipe, this falafel is an attempt at recreating those childhood memories. And since we don’t fry at home much these days, we decided to make a healthier baked version. These turned out amazingly similar to the delicious, savory, crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, ones I ate as a child! With the fresh baked pita, appropriate garnishes and some spicy harissa, it was Dearborn, 1990….well, almost.
For the falafel:
2 1/4 cups coked chickpeas
3 scalpions, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons groung cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
salt to taste
chopped red onion
chopped pickled jalapeños
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, scallions, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, parsley, cilantro and lemon juice. Pulse to combine and season with salt. Add in the baking powder and 1/3 cup of the flour and pulse to just combine. Remove to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
Remove the chickpea mixture from the refrigerator. Add the breadcrumbs and mix until combined. Check the mixture; you should be able to easily roll the falafel into a ball but it should not be dry. Add water or more breadcrumbs as necessary to get the right texture.
Roll the chickpeas into 2 inch balls. Place on generously oiled baking sheet and press down slightly to form a thick disk. Do this with the remaining mixture.
Generously brush olive oil on all the falafel disks and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and flip all the falafel to other side. Place in the oven and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and move to platter or cutting board. Let cool slightly before serving.
Serve the falafel in a warm pita with hummus, tahini, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, jalapeños and as much harissa as you palate desires!