Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce

By Beacon Staff

I really love a great falafel and here in Montana it would seem like this would be impossible to find. For those of you unfamiliar with this dish, falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans that is usually served with pita bread. Wildly popular throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa for years, starting off as a meat substitute during Lent, these delicious fritters can now be found all over the world in both restaurants and as street food. In this recipe we will garnish them with a tangy Greek style yogurt sauce know as tzatziki.

To get started you will need to gather the following ingredients …

For the Falafel:
2 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 medium yellow onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. curry powder
1 t. salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour

For the Tzatziki:
2 cups plain yogurt
2 lemons, juice and zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. fresh mint, chopped

First we will put together the tzatziki because it needs a little time for the flavors to come together before serving. To do this combine the yogurt, lemon juice and zest, garlic and mint in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper and place in the refrigerator.

Now we can start the falafel. First, place the chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, curry powder and salt in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse these ingredients until they are combined well but still have some texture to them. Add the egg and pulse a couple of times until incorporated into the chickpea mixture.

Now add the flour a little at a time, pulsing as you go, until everything comes together into a thick ball. Remove from the food processor into a mixing bowl. Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a golf ball and slightly flatten. Many recipes for falafel call for them to be deep-fried but I prefer a slightly healthier cooking method and like to pan-fry them in a little bit of olive oil until golden brown and crispy.

You can serve them alone with the tzatziki sauce but I like to make mine into pita sandwiches garnished with lettuce, cucumber and tomato … Enjoy!

Josh Auerhammer is the chef/owner of the Culinary Design Studio in Bigfork.