Falafel, the original fast food, brings to mind many things-but perhaps chief among them in the mind of many Palestinians is their attempted cultural appropriation. As a young college student, I was shocked at the Hebrew signs luring hungry New Yorkers to try this “Israeli” food fad of the early ’90s (comparable to today’s “Greek yoghurt”, I suppose). There has been more awareness since and Falafel is now considered, broadly speaking, a “Middle Eastern”, not an Israeli, food.
Gazans, never satisfied with the mild, kick up their Falafel a notch with the addition of green chillies, but also a generous dose of greens: dill, cilantro, parsley…
The result are bit size little morsels with a bright green interior bursting with flavor.
This particular recipe is in memory of my mother’s friend, Um Khaled, who passed away from cancer in the middle of Operation Cast Lead. She would frequently make me her homemade falafel upon request when I was pregnant with Yousuf and living in Gaza by myself.
The falaheen of Palestine have always been partial to onions overs garlic. They would add 2 onions to the recipe below and omit the cilantro and nutmeg. For a smoother texture, add 1/2 tsp baking soda to the soaking water of the chickpeas, then rub with your palms and rinse well before proceeding with recipe
Put through a food grinder or pulse in food processor in batches, starting with chickpeas:
2 cups dry chickpeas, rinsed and soaked in water for 16 hours
1 bunch cilantro (roughly 3/4 cup chopped)
1 bunch dill (roughly 1/2 cup chopped)
1 bunch parsley (roughly 1 cup chopped)
7 garlic cloves
5 hot green chilies, adjust based on personal preference
1 T. each: cumin, coriander, salt, and black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Set aside for 2 hours, then add immediately before frying:
1 tsp baking soda
2 T. roasted sesame seeds
Shape in small patties (dip hands in a little water if necessary to prevent sticking) or use a falafel mold, then fry in hot oil. Drain on a paper towel. Serve with tahina sauce (below), julienne onions sprinkled with 1 tsp sumac, sliced tomatoes, chili paste (filfil mat’hoon) and assorted pickles.
Blend together until smooth:
2 T. Tahina
1/2 cup water
Juice of two fresh lemons
1 garlic, mashed
1/2 tsp salt