My appreciation for falafel certainly changed after I tried some in Paris at  l'As du Fallafel, a.k.a. the purveyor of tiny balls of heaven wrapped neatly in a pita.  It's a well-known establishment in this city, and one that at least in my humble opinion merits all of the high praise it receives.  A no-nonsense, hustle-and-bustle kind of joint that has tourists and residents alike enamored.

I have never seen l'As du Fallafel empty; at any time of day, be it 11 AM, 4 PM, or midnight, there is always someone devouring the enormous pitas.  And I am not exaggerating, the pita's are enormous!

This pita pictured here is the Falafel Special, the cheapest and most popular one on the menu (6 euros).  It's a hefty meal, stuffed with all sorts of treasures like red and white cabbage, fried eggplant, tomatoes, pickles, cucumbers, spicy red sauce, a thick and creamy tsatziki sauce enveloping everything like a wonderful and edible blanket; and of course, tiny fried balls of spiced chickpeas, all wrapped in one of the thickest pitas I've ever seen.

Needless to say I think there's an undefinable and intensely satisfying taste that comes with falafel, and I actually have been making a healthier version for the past couple of years which I've adapted from a Moosewood recipe and is a great alternative to this deep-fried original. The good news for anyone who would like to do the same: it is extremely easy to make.  Essentially, you combine all of the ingredients together in a food processor, form them into little balls, and fry them lightly in a skillet.  Sounds good to me! 

When I made this at home, I ate it with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, and sundried tomatoes, and I served it with harissa (a spicy red sauce) and a quick home-made tahini sauce (1/2 cup tahini, 1 tsp. lemon juice, pinch salt, and 1 tbsp chopped parsley mixed together).  I think it would go wonderfully as well with some hummus or thick yogurt-dill suace.  However you eat it, I am confident you'll enjoy the rich chickpea flavor!

Falafel - serves 1-2
1 7-oz. can chickpeas
1/2 onion, minced (you can wrap the other half in foil and save it for another day)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp chopped parsley
2 pinches cumin
1 small pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1.  Pour everything (except the flour and vegetable oil) into a bowl or food processor, and mash or process until everything is combined together and pasty.
2.  Add flour and mix until combined - the paste should be able to form easily into little balls at this point - if not, add more flour by the tablespoon-full.
3.  Form into 4 balls of about 1 1/2-inch diameter
4.  Heat oil in a large skillet until it's smoking hot; add falafel balls, flatten slightly with a spatula, and cook until golden, about 10 minutes on each side. 

Bon week-end a tous!


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