Who’s in the mood for some Falafel? That’s probably a sentence you don’t hear very often living in the good ol’ U.S. of A. For those of you who have never tried Falafel, it is a popular type of Middle Eastern street food. It is made from either ground fava beans or chickpeas, which are seasoned with a variety of spices, formed into a ball or patty, and deep-fried to a golden brown. The patty or ball is then traditionally served in a flatbread, and topped with pickled veggies, salads, hot sauces, or drizzled with a Tahini based sauce. It’s so popular that McDonald’s even marketed a McFalafel at one point in time. (Of course they did) The Falafel’s origins can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt where it was originally made with fava beans. This meat alternative eventually made its way north to Israel and Palestine. Here the fava beans were replaced by chickpeas. This wound up becoming the more widespread version. A good Falafel should be brown and crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside, and have a nice subtle spice.
Maybe the Lake Effect Diner is not be the first place that comes to mind when you’re hankering to try some good Falafel, but it should be. When the idea of adding this delicious new twist to our regular menu came up, we knew we had to put some serious thought into it and develop our own recipe. We discovered you can’t just use canned chickpeas, but rather you have to do it right by soaking raw chickpeas overnight to rehydrate them properly and then grind them up to form the patties. This process results in a tender patty that holds together, instead of a dried out mess that breaks up as soon as you take a bite. We use a unique blend of Middle Eastern spices, which deliver the perfect little taste kick at the end. At the Diner we offer two ways to enjoy this labor of love. One way is as our Falafel Wrap Sandwich. We wrap the patties in a large soft tortilla with our house made hummus and Tzatziki (don’t even get me started on our hummus and Tzatziki recipes-spot on yum), sliced Spanish onion, tomato, and lettuce, and serve it with fresh cut fries. Another option is to order our Falafel Salad. Crispy Falafel Patties served atop our garden salad, with our hummus and Tzatziki, and warm Father Sam’s Pita. I love to take those pita pieces and basically build my own Falafel sandwich, stuffing them to the brink with everything I can fit in there. Oh, and I usually ask for a side of feta- but really, there’s no wrong way to Falafel.