Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Note on Falafels

This is a picture of sand. It could also pass for the spitting image of the falafels we made Monday night.

It was around a hot cauldron of boiling oil in Hurgada, Egypt that my husband and I developed a keen taste for falafels. Our kids haven't exactly developed it yet, but we keep trying and figure one of these days it'll take. Or maybe we'll just have to head back to Egypt and let some experts do the convincing.

I've made falafels from scratch a couple of times. My favorite from-scratch version is Bon Appetit falafels with cilantro yogurt, if you want to try it. Usually, though, I buy boxed mixes that only require water. The problem the past few years has been finding a consistent source that carries the brand I like.

Monday night we tried a new brand (Fantastic Foods). The flavor was excellent, but the product itself fell completely apart no matter what variations in cooking and ball-making we tried. It was so bad that we resorted to making little open-faced pitas with cucumber sauce and crumbs (the falafel) sprinkled generously on top. They simply wouldn't keep their form. So, I was surprised when a review I came across tonight included that brand among the favorites. Hmph. Maybe I need a hot cauldron of oil?

The most consistent brand I've found is Manischewitz. They know how to make a tasty falafel that holds together with minimal skill or effort. Cub (my local grocery) no longer carries them, and the other markets I've tried have other brands I don't like as much. Alas. Near East is a passable second, but they tend to have tiny hard chunks (chickpea, presumably) that make the texture less pleasant. Know a source for Manischewitz in the Twin Cities? Let me know!

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