TEFL International Cooking: Felafel

271172.JPGI developed a love for felafel in Budapest, of all places, where there are little felafel stands throughout the city. If my memory serves me correctly, they are not even always run by people who appear to hail from countries where falafel is a mainstay (this could explain what I’ve always considered an inappropriate emphasis on cabbage and pickles in the Budapest felafel sandwich). But – it’s still good. I also got a cooking lesson specifically on felafel from, um, a Bihari chef in Varanassi, India, so I like to think of myself not so much as a true felafal connoisseur, but as an educated appreciater of this food in all its fine forms.

I’ve also found felafel surprisingly easy to make abroad while TEFLing. It’s perfect for that moment when you craving for something “international”. You need:

  • Chickpeas, aka Garbanzo beans (ideally already hydrated or whatever in a can; dry ones require an inordinate amount of soaking and then cooking time), blended or mashed with a fork well;
  • Finely diced onions and garlic;
  • A bit of oil;
  • Spice; be creative – salt, pepper, chili pepper, parsley, be reasonable but whatever you’ve got on hand should be okay.

Mix all this stuff, form “patties” or whatever (croquettes, apparently) and – for the healthy version – bake them (the length of time depends on size; trust me, you can wing it). Deep-frying is a flavorful but also more caloric option.

How you serve the felafel is perhaps even more important, and of course varies based on personal preference. Pita bread is a must-have, as well as some kind of sauce, ideally incorporating tahini. I’d suggest using your creativity and knowledge of what’s available locally to make your very own version of felafel.

And if you find yourself stuck with a giant jar of tahini, you can always try out some Tahini Butter Cookies…mmm…they look good.