Israeli Vegan Soul Food – Falafel with Hummus and Tahini

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From all my travel, and living abroad, I’ve been fortunate to soak up some amazing cultures, languages, and flavors. Some of my most favorite ethnic cousins have been from the Middle East. I enjoy all the broad variety and aromatic flavors of the exotic spices of the Moroccan cuisine, the perfectly crusty Persian rice, the Turkish Pilav, and many others. However, as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing that beats the Israeli falafel!
Why Israeli?!? Because this common Middle Eastern staple dish varies from region to region vastly, as well as the Hummus, and the Tahini sauce which is served with it. Israeli falafel is made strictly from chickpeas, unlike its Egyptian version which uses fava beans, or a combination of fava and chickpeas.
In addition, an authentic Israeli Hummus is much lighter and creamer than what we often see in the US, and most importantly, the Tahini sauce is much thicker, and more flavorful than the watered down versions we often see from other regions. Furthermore, the stuffed falafel in a pita, is always served with an abundance of veggies, hummus, and tahini sauce.
Today I will share with you the secrets to the ultimate Israeli street, and vegan soul food!
FALAFEL
Ingredients:

2 cup dried chickpeas
1 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
5 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
5 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1.5 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons flour
Coconut oil for frying
Chopped tomato and cucumber for garnish
Diced onion for garnish
Tahina sauce (see recipe below)
Hummus (see recipe below)
Sautéed eggplant and yellow squash
Sautéed or pickled cabbage
Pita bread
Instructions:

1. Place organic chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain.

2. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.

3. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

4. Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of small round patties, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets.

5. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan, and place the patties a half an inch apart. Sauté until golden brown, and turn them over. Drain on paper towels. Stuff the pita with hummus, falafel patties, chopped tomatoes and cucumber salad, onion, eggplant, squash and pickled cabbage salad, and drizzle with tahini sauce.

 

HUMMUS

To get the most perfect creamy texture, is one if the most challenging task in preparing Hummus. Its smooth consistency and light color, is one of the most unique characteristics of Israeli Hummus. Years ago, I introduced this dish to my husband, however he never embraced this taste, until the day he tasted an authentic Israeli Hummus.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon baking soda
7 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup tahini (recipe below)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt
Paprika, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Instructions:

In a medium bowl, cover the dried chickpeas with 2 inches of water and stir in the baking soda. Refrigerate the chickpeas overnight. Drain the chickpeas and rinse them under cold water.
In a medium saucepan, cover the chickpeas with 2 inches of fresh water. Add the garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until the chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, reserving 10 tablespoons of the cooking water and 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas. Rinse the chickpeas under cold water. Peel the garlic cloves.
In a food processor, puree the chickpeas with 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 6 of the garlic cloves. Add the cumin along with 1/4 cup each of the tahini and lemon juice and process until creamy. Season the hummus with salt and transfer to a serving bowl.

Using a ladle, make an indent in the center of the hummus, and spoon in the tahini-lemon mixture. Sprinkle the hummus with the cumin and paprika. Garnish with the reserved whole chickpeas and the parsley, and serve with pita bread ax a stand alone dish, or combine it with a falafel for a stuffed sandwich.

 

TAHINI SAUCE
In Israel, tahini sauce is an integral part of a falafel sandwich, or a hummus dish, and is called T’china.
The secret of making a perfectly rich, creamy, and delicious T’china, is not to dilute it with too much water, but rather, create a thick and creamy consistency. Furthermore, please note, that the T’china tends to separate when it sits, and the finished product also tends to get thicker after a few minutes.

Tahini sauce is basically made out of ground sesame seeds that are made into a thick paste. Many different organic options are available at your local health food stores, and some even come directly from Israel.

 

Ingredients:

Juice from 1.5 lemon.
2 -4 minced cloves of garlic.
1.5 cups of water.
A handful of chopped parsley – optional
¼ teaspoon salt.

Instructions:

Pour 1 cup of the sesame puree into a food processor.
Add a bit of water and the lemon juice and pulse. Continue pulsing and adding water until you get an even and smooth creamy texture.
Add the garlic, the salt and the chopped parsley and pulse some more.
Once the tahini is ready, combine it with your hummus, or add it to your falafel sandwich.
And now, as Israelis would say- Be’te’Avon (Bon Appetite)!