Paris. The Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, the croissants, the fashion.
Paris is home to some of the finest food in the world, and falafel is no exception. It’s as good as you can find in Israel, and I know that because I ate falafel every. single. day. I was in Israel. I ate so much falafel I should have been awarded an honorary Bubbie.
The Paris-falafel connection was made known to me through Clotilde Dusoulier’s book ‘Edible Adventures in Paris‘ aka the only guide book you will ever, ever need for Paris. Well, unless food isn’t your thing. But then you shouldn’t be going to Paris, and we have even bigger issues to discuss.
L’as du Fallafel is a little Middle Eastern/Kosher restaurant/takeaway in the Jewish neighborhood of Paris. You can get two falafel pita + homemade lemonades for under $20, and it’s the best stinkin’ falafel ev-ah. We ate there three times (THREE TIMES) during our last trip to Paris, and I still didn’t get enough. On the list of top 500 reasons I want to move to Paris, it’s in, like, the top 10. Lest you think I am being dramatic, read its glowing Times write-up. Then get yo’ ass on a flight to Paris.
So. I think I have established that I lovvvvvvve falafel. The sad news? My favorite falafel place is an expensive plane ride/very, very long swim away. The great news? I can make pretty killer falafel at home for the nights when the University’s private jet is booked and the Booze Hound can’t whisk me off to the 4th Arrondissement for dinner.
There are so, so many ways to make falafel, and I am in no way, shape or form saying this comes close to the perfection L’a du Fallafel serves up, but I have made falafel about a million times at home and this is my favorite recipe. The cilantro adds a little something, and the tahini sauce is sublime. I know falafel is typically fried in little balls, but I have an aversion to frying at home, so these are pan-fried as patties in a shallow amount of oil. That means your kitchen won’t smell like McDonald’s and everyone is a little happier. If you want to jazz things up with some sort of crazy condiment like harissa mayo, pickled cabbage or fried eggplant a la L’as du Fallafel, you should do it. You don’t even have to serve it in pitas- I frequently just smear the tahini sauce on the patties and eat them with a fork. But I live dangerously.
If you love falafel, I think you’ll really enjoy this one. If you think falafel is veg-head rabbit food, you are very, very mistaken and you should at least give this a whirl. Come on, it’s only chickpeas. It’s not that scary. It’s like a little taste of Paris at home. Or Israel. Or awesome.
- ½ c panko
- ½ c chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 t ground cumin
- ¾ t salt
- Pinch red pepper flakes (more to taste)
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 eggs
- 2 (15-oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 T olive oil, plus more for frying
- Tahini Sauce
- ½ c plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt (can be low-fat, but the richness is nice)
- 2 T freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 T tahini
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ t salt
- 4 pitas (cut in half) or flat bread, lettuce leaves, tomato slices
- To prepare falafel, place first 9 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping the sides once or twice if you need to. Divide mixture into 16 patties (this can be done up to a day ahead of time and stored in the fridge till you're ready to make them!). When ready to cook them, pour enough olive oil into your skillet to coat the bottom (I use a large nonstick paella pan, but any large skillet will work- nonstick is preferable since these patties are a little delicate and can stick easily). Heat over medium-high heat until oil shimmers, then cook the patties for about 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.
- To prepare sauce, combine yogurt, lemon juice and tahini in a small bowl. Sprinkle the ¼ t salt over the garlic cloves and mince the salt into the garlic, scraping with the back of the knife to make it into a paste (this helps cut the bitterness of the raw garlic). Add the garlic-salt paste into the tahini mixture and stir well. Spread the inside of each pita half with tahini sauce, lettuce and tomato slices, add stuff with 2 falafel patties. If using flat breads, spread tahini sauce on each flat bread, then top with lettuce leaves, tomato slices, 4 falafel patties and roll up.