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Lebanese Falafel

Although falafel is made from chickpeas in the US, in Lebanon it is usually made from dried fava beans, with a handful of dried chickpeas sometimes thrown in. Favas have a wonderful flavor, but if you can't find them, dried white beans, such as cannellini or navy, can be substituted. Street vendors usually tuck falafel into pita bread with chopped lettuce and tomato and plenty of tahini sauce. At home, the balls can be served as an hors d'oeuvre, with a bowl of Tahini Sauce for dipping.


1 cup dried peeled fava beans (7 ounces), soaked overnight
3/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons water
Pure olive oil or canola oil, for frying

Tahini Sauce (recipe follows)

  1. Drain and rinse the favas and chickpeas and put them in a food processor. Add the onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, baking powder, salt, cumin and crushed red pepper. Pulse, scraping down the side of the bowl, to form a coarse paste. Add the water and process until the mixture is gritty but fine and brilliant green. Scrape the paste into a bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil to 350°. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the falafel mixture into the hot oil and fry in small batches until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels set over a wire rack and serve hot, with Tahini Sauce.

SERVE WITH: Tahini sauce

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