Falafel is of course, a ubiquitous fast food in Kuwait and the whole region, with most restaurants making the Levantine version. It is actually easy to make yourself, it does need soaking the beans, but that can be done overnight and one can comfortably sleep while that takes place – no oversight needed at that stage. The Pincis household weekend brunch features the Egyptian version, which is distinguished by using dried, pealed, split white broad beans, rather than the Levantine chick-pea. The recipe below can be made exclusively with broad beans or 50/50 with chickpeas that give an interesting variation in texture. Broad beans were grown in Pharaonic times and could well have been made into falafel from ancient times, though the word falafel is a conflation of the Coptic (Φα Λα Φελ), meaning “of many beans”. The Egyptian synonym Ta’amiya means “a small piece (unit) of food”, to get the etymology out of the way, while most of Egypt calls it ta’amiya, Alexandrians (and my much better half’s family is from there, they are resolute in calling the food falafel.
The preparation, though not difficult, is not something one would want to do every time one fancied ta’amya and the author and family usually have 5 or 6 each weekend day; after a long relaxed lie-in, a couple of ta’amya are good fuel while scrambling eggs and frying the tomatoes and mushrooms for brunch. Equally, one can batch cook for party snacks if one is so minded. Therefore, the quantities below work for between 60 to 72 individual pieces and divided into six packs for freezing, the mixture keeps well and after defrosting in the fridge overnight, the pack is ready to be divided up; half a pack on Friday and after being popped back in the fridge the balance the next day is used up. Rather like fish and chips – or any battered and fried food, it is something that is an absolute joy fresh and crisp, but miserable when reheated. The quantity stated below can, of course, be scaled up or down. 700 grams is chosen as the base figure for the beans as the dry broad bean pack is that weight.
One important note; when shopping look (or ask) for crushed beans (ful magroush), Al-Frige being one brand in the market and one should be confronted by light yellow split pulses. They will not look like broad beans as we know them in this form!
350 g Fava (broad) beans (dry)
350 g Chickpeas (dry)
or 700 g dried broad beans alone.
1 Supermarket bunch dill
½ Supermarket bunch coriander
½ Supermarket bunch leek leaves (kurath)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp dried coriander seed
1 tsp black pepper
1 head garlic
2 medium size onions
Sesame seeds for coating (we use both the black and the white, but white is easier to find, except in a Korean supermarket)
1 egg per fry
Makes 6 packets – 10/12 Falafel per pack
First soak the pulses for 12 hrs, with a change of water before grinding in a food processor for a few bursts to break down the big pieces, then add the rest of the ingredients and blitz to a stiff paste.
Divide the mixture equally into 6 freezer bags, if using the above household regime, of course, the above guideline is only to give an idea of rough quantities that will give you between 60 and 72 approx. 4 cm patties.
Once ready to fry, make into roughly 4 cm squashed balls of the mixture (the patty shape is easier to shallow fry) mixed with a beaten egg adding some salt and pepper for seasoning, coat with sesame seeds and fry, until you have a solid crust as in the photograph. Drain on kitchen paper and serve – or take cook’s rights as the author, hungry in the late morning!