How To Make Incredibly Crispy Falafel
Simple falafel from the Exec Chef at Boulud Sud
"I was a vegetarian for 19 years," says Aaron Chambers, Executive Chef at Boulud Sud located across from NYC's Lincoln Center. Of course, things have changed now that he heads the kitchen at Daniel Boulud's Mediterranean-influenced restaurant, but as a throwback to Chef's veggie days, we peeked in to see how he makes their incredibly crisp and flavor-packed herbed falafel.
Serve the crunchy chickpea bites with a spicy harissa yogurt — 2 tablespoons harissa paste stirred into plain Greek yogurt seasoned with salt.
Here's what you'll need for 40 (make 40, they keep nicely in the fridge or freezer):
- 1⅓ cups chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
- ½ cup bulgur wheat, soaked in water overnight
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup diced red onion
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon harissa paste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- vegetable oil, for frying
- Chopped fresh herbs to garnish
All photos by Gabi Porter. Click on any photo to launch a slideshow.
Drain the bulgur wheat and chickpeas very well, then lay out your mise en place — it's a pro tip that will save you a lot of time if you're not taking breaks in between steps to chop herbs. Next, give the onions and garlic a quick sauté, 5 minutes, until translucent, then side aside to cool.
In a food processor, combine onion and garlic with chickpeas, bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, cilantro, white sesame seeds, baking powder, cumin, salt, harissa and black pepper. Pulse, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula, until the chickpeas are finely minced and everything is well-combined.
Chambers uses a special pop-out falafel press, but you can roll just the falafel mixture into chestnut-sized balls or small patties like these, no gadget necessary. Arrange on a baking tray and chill for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer to 350F, then fry falafel in batches until deep golden-brown — about 3-5 minutes. They go from perfect to burned in just a few seconds, so keep a close eye on them, then remove from fryer and drain on a layer of paper towels.
Plate by spooning a little of the spicy harissa yogurt onto a plate or serving platter, placing a falafel on top, then topping with a little more of the yogurt and chopped fresh herbs or microgreens.
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