domesticity strikes again. this time i was compelled to teach myself to make cheap, healthy ethnic food. trial #1 (borscht) was going pretty well until i started admiring the gory pile of beet shavings in my sink and, distracted, took a hunk out of my index finger (my last thought before that, ironically, was "hee, fargo!"). then i puréed everything at the end, which turned out to be a terrible idea. in russia, borscht purées you!

trial #2 (baked falafel) was much more satisfying. i found an online recipe* that didn't even call for my year-old can of tahini - in fact, its most exotic ingredient was soy sauce. tweaked for our heat-addicted tastebuds, may i present

falafel for whitey

- 2 cans chickpeas (drained)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp peanut butter (i used chunky organic)
- 1 scallion, minced
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped (medium fine)
- 1 egg
- handful (about 1/8 cup) of cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (i used tamari)
- sesame seeds

pulverize garbanzo beans in a manner of your choosing (unable to find the food processor lid, i tried pulsing them in the blender with the egg and soy sauce and then squished the resulting paste between my fingers to get the giant lumps out - were i you, i would not choose this manner); in a large bowl, combine and mix all ingredients except sesame seeds. roll resulting paste between your hands to create spheres the size of golf balls; roll these in sesame seeds (i placed a few tbsp at a time in the bottom of an empty margerine container, which seemed to work well) and place a few inches apart on a cookie sheet (or a brownie pan, which takes care of the occasional fugitive falafel ball). if you're feeling zesty, sprinkle a bit more cayenne on top of each ball. bake at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes (ie until they're paper bag brown; the sesame seeds don't seem to change color). served with halved pita bread (toast if you like, but go easy - brittle pitas make a HUGE mess), fresh arugula, sliced tomato, tzatziki (or plain greek yogurt, which is pretty common out here), hummus, hot sauce (we used cholula, which was great) - whatever blows your hair back.

joe, george, and i all liked this; i think the key was the tzatziki** and the hot sauce, which made up for the dryness of the falafel balls. i also think the dish worked because i wasn't expecting it to taste like authentic falafel; i expected, and got, a tasty, vaguely mediterranean sandwich. it's a start, no?

*i didn't realize until i was walking around the amish market with a printout that said recipe comes from a site called "modern wife." aaugh, wife!

**admittedly, total brand tzatziki or yoghurt would make most anything edible. the greeks are not fooling around with that stuff.


jacob said...

the mishook/smith household is addicted to the fage yogurt. the only issue i have with it is that the container has no lid, which means constantly plastic wrapping the remaining yogurt (if you buy the large containers).

not that i've tried it (yet), but you can get a similar effect to fage by straining regular yogurt (since that's really the only difference between the american and greek versions).

joe said...

gotta fry them falafel balls, though. baked es no bueno.

sara Gordon said...

hey joe, where's your blog? these last few comments lead me to believe you could at least throw us a bone every couple of days. one-liners work for the mtv generation...

also, fage yogurt is AWESOME with honey. ummm. honey.

i'm hungry.

lauren said...

listen, buddy, the whole point was to try and make something HEALTHY. you want the fried falafel, you queue for it on 6th avenue like the rest of new york.