Thursday 22 May 2014

Falafel in Pita Bread with Tzatziki

Holy hell these things are awesome! For one, they’re way easier to make than you could have hoped. For two, once you’ve made the mix, they can be stored in the fridge or freezer and kept for whenever you get the craving again. But best of all, they taste like happiness. So much happiness.

Give it to me straight, doc

    Throw a bunch of chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, salt, cayenne, cumin and coriander (the powder, not the leaf, although sure feck it, use that too) into a food processor. Add a little baking powder and some flour, then buzz the whole lot. Congratulations, you’ve made falafel.

    After all that back-breaking work, you should make the pita bread. Take a small ball of your bread dough and roll it out flat, then put it in a hot oven. It’ll balloon up, and be cooked in a few minutes. Congratulations, you’ve made pita bread.

    Tzatziki is a yoghurt, garlic, lemon and grated cucumber sauce that goes perfectly with the spicy falafel. To make it, mix yoghurt, garlic, lemon and grated cucumber. Throw in some salt and pepper too. Congratulations, you’ve made Tzatziki.

    While your pita is in the oven, put a load of vegetable oil in a pan and get it nice and hot. Scoop up a little ball of the falafel in your hand, flatten it slightly and drop it in the hot oil. Cook them in batches, turning once.

    Cut one of your fresh pita in half, and stuff it with falafel, tzatziki and tomato and lettuce.

Congratulations, you’ve made delicious happiness.

Wait, what just happened?

Don’t worry, I’ll talk you through it. First up, ingredients.

For the falafel:
  • 400g tin of chickpeas x2
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of chopped up parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 a courgette

For the pita:
  • bread dough

What the hell man! Where do I get bread dough?

Right, sorry! Okay, here’s a basic dough recipe that’s about as simple as it gets. Using this, you can make pretty much any type of bread. Except Irish Soda Bread. Which is even flippin’ easier to make, and I’ll tell you about that another time (Edit: and that time is now!)

For the Tzatziki:
  • about 300g of plain yoghurt
  • half a lemon
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a cucumber

Anything else:
  • Oil for frying. Sunflower, vegetable, whatever
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Flour for dusting
  • Any salad type stuff you want in the pita, like tomato and lettuce.

Ready? Let’s do this.

    First, make your bread dough. Again, you can find the recipe here. It’s very simple, but you need to wait at least half an hour for it to prove. While it’s doing that, you can make the falafel and tzatziki.

    It’s a good idea to have a food processor, even a bad one. Otherwise you’re going to spend a few tedious minutes chopping chickpeas. So assuming you have something with spinning blades, go ahead and put all your falafel ingredients in except the courgette. Make sure to drain the chickpeas first though. Pulse everything until it's all broken down into little pieces, but not turned to purée. You may need to do this in batches, if you have a small food processor.

    Empty it all into a large bowl, and finely grate in the courgette. It’s not necessary, but I like it and it helps moisten the mixture a little. You can now leave this aside while you get your tzatziki ready.

    Crush your garlic and add it to your yoghurt in a small bowl. Squeeze in the juice from your lemon and mix. Now finely grate your cucumber onto a plate, which will absolutely bleed water. Drain the water off, and add the cucumber to the other ingredients. Grind in some salt and pepper, mix everything together, and you’re done. Put the bowl on your table, ready to serve.

    Now for the pita. Heat your oven to 230ºC. Pull off a lump of your dough, enough to make a sphere that fits in you hands if you cup em together. Now dust your counter and a rolling pin with flour and roll that sucker out really really flat. You should have a circle or an oval about the size of a small pizza. Do this with as many pieces of dough as you need. Keep in mind that each circle will give you enough pita for two falafel sandwiches.

    Put it on a baking tray (or a heated pizza stone if you have one) and throw it in the oven. You can do as many at a time as your oven will fit. What will happen now is pretty cool. A combination of the yeast working its magic and the steam from the heat will cause a gap to form in the middle of your dough which will fill up like a balloon. This only takes a few minutes, and because the dough is so thin, the bread is cooked in about 5-6 minutes total. A little less if you like your pita chewy.

    While they’re in the oven, pour enough oil into a frying pan that it ends up being about 1cm deep. Or if you have a deep fat fryer, use that. Either way, heat the oil up nice and hot. While it’s heating, use your hands to shape the falafel mixture into small balls, about 2cm across, and then flatten them slightly so they’ll cook easier.

    Place them into the hot oil and let them fry until dark brown underneath, then turn them over and brown the other side. They only take about 5 minutes to cook (less if your oil is very hot or your… balls are very small). Use a slotted spoon to take them out of the oil and leave them to drain for a minute on some kitchen paper.

    Now take one of you cooked pitas, which should still be a little puffed up, and cut it in half so you have two semi-circles. Fill the inside with the fried falafel, any salad you want, and a generous helping of the tzatziki sauce.


Then make another and enjoy that too.

(Leftover tzatziki, falafel mixture and dough can all be kept in the fridge for up to a week. Cooked pita will probably go stale after a day, so try to only make the amount of pita that you will eat. That dough can be used for a whole range of different breads or bread-type things, so even if you don’t have any more of the other stuff left, hold on to it.)

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