Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pita and Falafel

Can we just take one moment and look at the tasty mountain that was my homemade pita bread. Oh my goodness. Fresh, soft, vegan friendly and wonderful filled with homemade falafel and some hummus. And I don't normally even like falafels! But how can you say no to these babies?

Aren't they just the cutest?! LOL.

Ok, enough silly talk about the adorableness of my falafel army and pita mountain. I am participating in this month's Taste and Create hosted by For the Love of Food. Each participant is assigned a food blog partner and they choose any dish from their partner’s blog, create it, taste it and write about it. My partner blog was Namratha at finger licking food. I chose to make a Mediterranean dish from the site, the classic pita and falafel. I didn't make hummus because I didn't have tahini or sesame seeds and am not normally a fan of hummus. Then again I normally don't love falafel, yet I LOVED these. I had a small issue with the recipe, but with just a typo fix, both recipes are great.

My Summary: Everyone loved the falafel and pita. Most people just thought the pita was really good store bought pita until I told them. The falafels were nice and dense, crispy on the outside, warm and smooshy on the inside. De-lish

OK, now the tips and changes. The recipe for the pita says you need 2 1/2 cups water, but only lists a use for 1/2 cup of that. I put 2 and 2 together and added the extra 2 cups to the dough. Worked great. I will just include the change in the recipe below. Also, I don't think my oven was hot enough because the pitas ended up needing 2 min on each side, but again I blame that on my oven. By the time I was on my 10th pita, I decided to become adventurous. I sprayed the remainder with olive oil cooking spray and coated with coarse salt and either Italian seasoning or rosemary. Both toppings were good, an extra flavor boost.

Oh, one more thing, for the 1st time EVER, I had yeast problems. I always kind of giggle when I read about people who are afraid of yeast, wondering "why?" Well I guess I shouldn't take easy yeast for granted since I killed my yeast this time. I think my water was too hot so it barely bubbled at all. I proofed a 2nd batch of yeast and all was fine, easy peasy as always. Remember your yeast should look like this after 10 minutes, not a brown soup. If it doesn't look like this, start again.

As for the falafel, I used the canned chickpeas, and needed about a can and a half, drained, to make 2 cups. I too fried my falafels. I ended up using what I estimate to be about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of bread crumbs to the mix to make it solid enough. I then tried 2 techniques for frying: 1st I followed the idea on Namratha's blog about coating in a watery slurry of cornstarch and water, then rolling in breadcrumbs before frying, then I just rolled the balls in the breadcrumbs without anything else. Both worked fine. I decided to leave out the cornstarch mix just for ease since it had the same results. The trick was to not undercook them. I undercooked the first batch (seen above) and it fell apart a little. Wait till they are dark brown and crispy.

2 cups canned chickpeas
1 tsp baking powder
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsps cumin powder
2 tsps coriander powder (I omitted because I didn't have it)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 handfuls fresh parsley (I used dried)
1 handful fresh cilantro (I omitted)
salt and pepper
breadcrumbs for binding (~1/2 cup)

1. Grind chickpeas to a fine, but not smooth paste with all the other ingredients except the breadcrumbs/flour. If it is too loose, add breadcrumbs/flour. It should hold its shape in your hand. Check the seasonings. (I started by using a hand chopper, then an electric mixer- the electric mixer cannot handle the whole chickpeas so start with a chopper or blender)
2. Refrigerate it for a while if you can. It helps to blend the flavours and make the mixture less wet.
3. Make 22-24 balls. Roll in bread crumbs and fry until golden brown (I fried in about 1/2" high canola oil on medium heat, turning occasionally. Don't make it too hot or the outside will burn before they are cooked)

Pita Bread
3 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 TBSP active dry yeast
1 TBSP honey
2 1/2 cups warm water, divided (warm, but NOT hot. should not hurt to put your finger in for a while)
2 tsp salt
2 TBSP olive oil

1. Combine yeast, honey and ½ cup warm water in a small bowl. Cover and let sit 10 min until frothy.
2. Combine flours, yeast mixture, the other 2 cups water, salt and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and blend until it forms a ball (I stirred with a wooden spoon then kneaded since I do not have a large food processor).
3. Divide dough into 12 even balls. Cover with moist cloth and let sit in a warm place for an hour until it doubles in size.
4. Heat oven to 550 Fahrenheit. Roll each ball into a thin circle. Place 2 at a time on a baking sheet and bake for 1-2 min per side until puffy and light brown. Repeat for the rest of the rounds. Serve warm with hummus and falafel.


LisaRene said...

Wow, homemade pita and falafel, you are dedicated! Looks delicious. I love any kind of bread but homemade is always the best. Falafel is such a flavorful food, do you every bake it instead of frying it?

Tart Reform said...

I have never tried baking it, but Namratha's blog (finger licking food) has a link to a site with directions for baking. Check it out.

LisaRene said...

Thank you for sharing. I made falafel a while back and had the "great idea" to grill falafel patties on my George Foreman Grill. The result was hilarious, as I didn't take into consideration the soft texture of the falafel dough and ended up with falafel pancakes! They tasted more like hummus pancakes then falafel. I'm definitely going to try your recipe, the proper way, no George Foreman Grill this time.

Nicole from: For the Love of Food said...

I just made the falafel tonight and the flavors were extraordinary. However, my falafels fell apart while frying. I think they didn't have enough liquid. Did you use the liquid from the chick peas?

Tart Reform said...

No, I drained the chickpeas. I first thought The reason they were falling apart was from a lack of liquid, but, following the directions, I added more bread crumbs and it worked! Apparently the inside needs to be nice and dry. Also, roll in bread crumbs before frying, that seemed to help too.