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