Saturday, March 17, 2018

Falafel – little green Patties on Paddy’s Day

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Patty or Paddy? Paddy or Patty? On Irish soil, it will always be Paddy but the Americans can call him what they like. New research points to the first St Patrick’s Day celebrations being held in Florida in 1600 and the first parade apparently took place there a year later. Boston followed suit in 1737 and New York a tardy 25 years later. Ireland didn’t get in on the act until 1903 with the first parade in Waterford. Dublin joined in in 1931.

Patrick’s real name is thought to have been Maewyn Succat and he is believed to have been from either Scotland or Wales, son of a Roman-British army official. But Happy St. Maewyn Succat’s Day doesn’t have the same ring to it so I’m sticking with Paddy and you can say Patty if that floats your boat.

Food-wise, I’m breaking with tradition this year and skipping the corned beef and colcannon and making ... er... chickpea patties - well Falafel is green enough to be Irish on March 17.

(You could have Guinness Chocolate Cake for afters...)

For about 30 ... erm... patties ... you will need...

250g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (for about 10 hours) - no shortcuts here - tinned chickpeas just won't cut the mustard in this recipe.
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fine table salt
2 tablespoons gram flour (chickpea flour)* 
4 spring onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaf
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

*You can substitute regular wheat flour but obviously they stop being gluten-free

Sunflower oil for frying

Rinse the pre-soaked chickpeas, drain and roll in a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper to remove as much moisture as possible. Blitz in batches in a food processor until you have a uniformly crumbly mix - you are not looking for hummus. 

Toast the cumin and coriander seed along with the black peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until they smell toasted – anything up to 5 minutes. Immediately remove and transfer out of the pan into a bowl otherwise they will carry on toasting. When cool, crush the spices (in a spice grinder, with a pestle and mortar - whatever you normally crush your spices with).

A bit finer than this please, chef!

Add these along with the remaining ingredients to the final batch of chickpeas and blitz until smooth. Mix in the rest of the blitzed chickpeas until evenly combined. You are looking for a couscous-like texture.

If you have a falafel scoop, use that to make little patties. Otherwise, dampen your hands and take walnut-sized scoops of mixture, roll them into a ball and flatten slightly.

Heat oil in a deep fat fryer to 180°C. Pop the falafel in one at a time, careful not to overcrowd the fryer or you’ll lower the temperature and end up with oily falafel. Fry until these little green pucks have taken on a golden hue – 3 – 5 minutes depending on size. Turn out into a dish lined with kitchen paper.

I serve them as follows:

Smear a flatbread with hummus. Add finely shredded iceberg lettuce, finely chopped tomatocucumbershredded spring onion, and a squirt each of garlic dressing and Sriracha sauce. Squash in 3 to 5 freshly cooked falafel. Fold in the sides, then roll tightly and enjoy as you watch the parade (or the Ireland v England match) wherever you are.

Pita does equally well.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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