Saturday, January 12, 2013

Falafel Waffles

I love falafel.  Used to eat it all the time in NY.  But it's not so common in San Diego.  I'd make it myself, but I hate deep frying. But Mark Bittman's love of freshly-cooked chickpeas (the the resulting broth, which he dubs 'gold') set me to cooking them myself.  Which made me want falafel.

So I thought about alternatives to deep-frying. The essence of deep-frying, I reasoned, is total immersion in high heat, where high means more than boiling, hot enough to brown.

Enter the waffle iron, a device that forms batter into a shape with a lot of surface area exposed to high heat.  Clearly, this is genius on two scales, I thought: it will work beautifully; it rhymes.

Trademark time!  Google search!  First entry: No, you aren't the first person to think of falafel waffles.  D'oh! Still, there aren't many falafel waffle recipes out there, and many included wheat flour, but I wanted both wheat- and gluten-free, so I set out on my own expedition.

I started with chickpea flour (Bob's Red Mill).  For seasoning I used garlic, scallion and some fresh herbs (various mixtures of dill, cilantro, mint and basil.)  The taste was great, but I had used very little water, just enough to bring the mixture to a paste, and that did not work so well in a waffle iron.  If I left it long enough to brown, my falafel turned into a jawbreaker.

So gradually I increased the liquids, water and some olive oil, until I got to a pour-able batter, just like flour waffles.  On the advice of waffle experts, I added baking powder, and where others added a little wheat flour for binding, I added arrowroot.  I haven't done controlled experiments on the effects of the arrowroot as a binding agent, so don't panic if you don't have any.

In addition to the baking powder, I borrowed the traditional wet/dry method from baking: two bowls, one for wet ingredients, one for dry, mix each thoroughly, then combine.  The wet and dry mixtures should be roughly equal in volume.  This recipe uses 1/2 Cup of each, resulting in about two waffles in a medium-sized circular waffle iron.

The result is spicy, savory waffles, light and crunchy, with a uniform texture.  They are different from traditional falafel, but close enough for my purposes.  I eat them as a standalone snack, or with chopped  cabbage (usually red) dressed with a sauce made of lemon and tahini (sesame paste).

To restore some of the feel of traditional falafel, I often add small quantities of mashed chickpeas, cooked brown rice, or both.  Both of these reduce the tensile strength of the waffle, but add a nice crumbly texture and nuttiness.

I put the wet ingredients in a measuring cup and puree with an immersion blender:

  • 2 scallions or 2 cloves of garlic, or mixture
  • a few sprigs of herbs
  • pinch of salt
  • a tablespoon or two of olive oil
  • enough water to bring the level to 1/2 Cup.
  • Optional: a tablespoon or two of chopped/mashed chickpeas and/or brown rice (cooked)

  • 1/2 Cup chickpea flour
  • pinches of salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of arrowroot
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
The resulting batter should pour easily. If not, add more water and mix until it does.  Bean flour takes some time to re-hydrate.  I let the batter rest for an hour; anything less than that seems to leave a hint of raw bean taste.  This recipe makes about two waffles in a circular waffle iron.


Anonymous said...

This is freaking genius! I also love falafel but rarely make it because I hate deep frying...

Anonymous said...

Found your blog because I searched for "chickpea waffles." I was actually looking for a regular breakfast waffle recipe that used chickpea flour instead of wheat, but we love falafel in this house and now I am compelled to try your recipe. Thanks!