I was really looking forward to making the Lebanese Falafel over the weekend! I have heard about the dish quite a bit, but I had never really tried it, let alone made it. I had some free time to make a lunch on Friday and so I decided to do the challenge!
The day I made this I ran into difficulties finding the ingredients. I did not really have the time to drive 100 miles to the nearest Middle Eastern grocery store, so I decided I would work with what I could gather at the local supermarkets in Chico.
Of course I could not find Lebanese bread, so I went with this Lavish bread I found at Trader Joe’s. I also had a heck of a time finding fava beans. I finally found some canned ones at Raley’s, which I had to peel individually. These beans retained an odd smell and were also red instead of the green color I had expected to see. I also made the decision to go with canned, organic garbanzo beans. Viviane had warned me not to use canned beans because they were boiled, but these ones said “soaked” on the can and so I thought they would be OK (wrong!).
When I got to preparing the dough, I wondered if there was too much onion in the recipe. The onions I used were small by American standards, so I went ahead and used two as the recipe stated. I found out too late that the onions here tend to be much larger than typical ones in Lebanon. This much onion took up about 1/4 of the space in the food processor and may have contributed to what follows.
I processed the beans with the onion and garlic per the recipe and the consistency seemed good. I made my own spice mix utilizing the spices recommended in the recipe and worked this into the dough. However, when I shaped the dough and placed the rounds into the oil… well… they vanished! Yes, they completely dissolved in the oil! I suspect the cause of this was either the canned beans or the excess of onion. To salvage the dough, I tried mixing a little flour with it, which did not help. As a last resort, I added an egg white to the dough to try holding things together. This actually did the trick and held the dough together through the frying process.
I did not deviate from the rest of the recipe. I placed a few patties of the falafel on the Lavish bread and added tomatoes, pepperoncinis, orange bell peppers, mint, and Italian parsley. I drizzled the tahini sauce over the top, wrapped it up, and took my first bite.
I enjoyed the difference in flavor to the usual American sandwiches, but the excess onion was a bit overwhelming. I would probably recommend using 1/2 of an onion for this recipe if you are in the States and definitely use the dry bean recipe to avoid the vanishing falafel! Also, Lebanese bread, pita, or even a wrap would be better than the Lavish bread for these types of sandwiches in my opinion. I found the bread to be rather tough and hard to chew, even in comparison to a typical flour tortilla. Well I have jotted down some lessons learned for my next attempt!