4 • June 2018 • UPBEAT TIMES, INC. T

Eat Well & Prosper: “THE ISRAELI HOT DOG” by Executive Chef Ron Skaar of Redwing, Mn. ~

he history of the falafel could go back as far as pharaonic Egypt. Or it

could lie in the ancient Indian sub- continent, were deep frying was common, and then brought west by the Arabs and Turks. Like so many food origins,

the birth of falafel is controver- sial. Copts, an ancient Christian sect of Egypt and Ethiopia,

invented the ta’amia, a fava bean fritter that is a parent to falafel, about 1,000 years ago. This was eaten as a replacement for meat during lent. From the port of Alexandria, the

dish migrated northward, through the Levent, which includes all the countries bordering the Mediterra- nean between Greece and Egypt.

Chickpeas slowly replaced the fava beans during this migration. The fava bean is the largest of the commonly eaten legumes and was one of the earliest domes- ticated plants of west and Central Asia. Chick- peas are a native of southwest Asia and have been cul- tivated for about 9,000 years.

Falafels name

most likely deprives from the Arabic word for spicy, mefelfel. It grew to be a ubiquitous form of street food in the Middle East and regularly eaten as part of their Meze. Originally served in paper, falafel were also wrapped in fl atbread to resemble a tur- ban. The chickpea fritters have been considered a national dish in Egypt, Palestine and Israel. Deep fried balls made of ground chick-

peas, garlic, cumin and other spic- es are prevalent through- out the region, only

a tahini-pepper sauce and fresh salad. It’s popularity in this form gives it the humorous moniker of the “Israeli hot dog”. And it can be eaten with meat or dairy meals, giving falafel an iconic role in Israeli cuisine. Falafel was so popular, that McDonalds for a time served a “McFalafel” on its breakfast menu all over Egypt. Falafel and hum- mus are often seen as tools of peace in the region. They may not agree on the origin of the dishes but the enjoyment they bring is universal to the area.

Chickpeas are no- table among the le-

gumes for being about 5 % oil the way they are served varies. Jews, who lived in Egypt or

Syria, were exposed to falafel for centuries. In Israel, falafel is often tucked inside a pita bread with

by weight; most others are 1-2%. Chickpeas are a frequent ingredi- ent in many Middle East and In- dian dishes. In Southern Europe and Latin America (where they are called the Spanish garbanzo) they are a common ingredient in salads, soups and stews. One of nature’s perfect foods,

chickpeas are highly nourishing. They are rich in protein, fi ber, complex carbohydrates, folate, iron and zinc. Chickpeas are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fi ber which contrib- ute to satiety. They are digested slowly, promoting a gradual re- lease of blood glucose, helpful in the control of diabetes. Now falafel are an international food, like the hamburger. Today it is a familiar and popular street food in many cities throughout North America. It was the old Raffi ’s, on Haight Street, where I fi rst tasted the crunchy, spicy croquettes with the nutty tahini sauce and crispy vegetables in pita.

I have loved it ever since. At my

fi rst catering job, we used to make vats of the falafel mixture for Jewish Independence Day parties in the Bay Area. The aroma and spicy color after the ingredients are mixed is amazing. Pulse the mixture until fi nely chopped, not puréed, for best results. Canned chickpeas are verboten in most recipes, including the one at- tached.

4 • June 2018 • UPBEAT TIMES, INC.


June 2018 Ingredients:

EW & P Recipe

2cups chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water 2 large onions, fi nely chopped

1/3 cup minced parsley 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose fl our 3 cloves garlic 2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and pepper Canola oil, for frying Shredded lettuce, sliced to- mato, tahini, hot sauce and warm pita, for serving

1. Drain

Directions: the


and transfer to a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and sim- mer until tender, about 1 hour. Drain and separate on a rimmed baking sheet, let cool to room temperature. 2. Mix cooled chickpeas with the rest of ingredients, ex- cept oil, and transfer to food processor and pulse


fi nely chopped. Scrape the mixture back into bowl and let rest in fridge for half an hour.

3. Use a 3 tablespoon cook- ie scoop to make 24 balls. Flatten slightly into 11/2-inch rounds.

4. In medium saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil to 375 degree over medium high heat. Fry the falafel in batch- es until golden brown and cooked thru, about 3 min- utes per batch. Drain on wire rack lined with paper towels. Serve the warm falafel as a sandwich in pita with condi- ments.

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Chef Ron

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