Read closely. Should you ever decide to take on the task of making your own falafels, it is not as easy at it sounds. And it really did sound easy.
This should be prefaced by saying that no one should ever let Joe and I in a kitchen alone. Especially Joe.
So $80 worth of chickpeas later (calm down, Hong Kong dollars), we had all of the ingredients laid out on the counter, ready to begin. Kate wasn’t feeling well, so Joe decided to take command. I asked him if he wanted me to print out the recipe to which he said, “Nah, I didn’t use it shopping, why should I use it cooking?” That should have been the first of many warning flags. Joe drains the chickpeas and throws them ALL into the blender, topped with garlic, a ton of parsley, salt, cumin and some mystery spice that was very yellow. Joe hits the start button and nothing. No whirl, just a stand still inside. I suggested that maybe he put too many chickpeas in at once, but there really wasn’t any convincing him he was going about this the wrong way. In the background eggplant is softening on the skillet for the baba ganoush Joe also wanted to make. Joe refused to empty out part of the blender, so the ingredients on the bottom got super mushy, while the ones on top stayed pretty much intact. The recipe called for the chick peas to be blended, but not to the point that they were smooth. Not that Joe read the recipe. (Men and directions!) After a few more failed attempts at blending, Joe scooped everything out and pressed it all in a bowl with a fork.
“Good enough.” He declared. On to the baba ganoush. Joe throws in the eggplant, olives and the juice from the cans and blends. He learned his lesson from the time before and only filled the blender half way this time. Kate came in to check on us and leaned over to taste the baba ganoush. I really wish you could have seen her face. It made me want to stay far, far away from the blender.
“What did you put in this?” she asked in disgust.
“Eggplant and olives of course,” Joe said defensively.
“No garlic? Or salt? Or even olive oil? That’s pretty much a main ingredient, olive oil.” I had to laugh. I had never had baba ganoush, so I wasn’t the one to blame here, but that didn’t really seem to get me off the hook either. Kate banished us from the kitchen while she performed some serious magic on the contents of the blender. By the time she came out with the bowl, it was edible. Still tasted like blended olives, which is okay if you like olives, but Kate assured me that she had tasted better.
Back to the falafels. Joe and I had a system: I would roll them into balls, and Joe would drop and remove them from the oil. The first one he dropped in we heard it splat to the bottom, and through the bubbles saw the messy remains of what was once a perfectly formed ball.
“Gentle Joe. Gentle.” This time, with much restraint, Joe started placing the balls of chick peas and assorted spices into the boiling oil. Once they were all in, and my hands were dyed mustard yellow, Kate suggested that maybe Joe start taking some of them out of the oil. (A smart one, that Kate.) After a desperate drawer search, Joe found the tongs and reached into the bubbling mess in the pot to pull out a browned clump, nothing like the shape or color that went in. Kate sighed and pulled out the colander.
“Here, pour everything through here, carefully, and maybe this way you won’t mess the rest of them up.” Joe started towards the sink.
“No!” Kate and I said in unison. I am no cook, there is no denying that. And I’ve had my share of kitchen mishaps, (read lemon bars on the bottom of the stove and the honey apple chicken disaster!) but even I know that hot oil DOES NOT go down the drain. I pulled over a bowl and Joe and Kate took to the task of trying to drain the oil from the falafels in hopes of saving some. The finished product?
One single falafel and a lot of oily crumbs.