Falafel with Pumpkin Tzatziki
Meg & I began texting back & forth on Friday waiting for the results of the first Project Food Blog challenge to be announced. Once, we realized we were still in the running to be America’s Next Top (Models) Food Bloggers we had to decide what to make. She was traveling this weekend to visit her sister so it was up to me complete the challenge. There is nothing I love more than cooking with pumpkin during the fall; it has such a rich flavor that always enhances everything. With pumpkin in mind I decided I needed to incorporate it somehow into this challenge. That’s when I thought about making falafel with tzatziki, but not just any tzatziki…pumpkin tzatziki. I spent some time reading a bit about falafel while preparing the recipe and decided that adding pumpkin to the tzatziki would put the perfect twist on this classic Middle Eastern street food.
When I was in high school, my friend’s family owned a Middle Eastern/Lebanese restaurant in downtown Boston (it’s no longer there, I think a shoe store is there now). I was so afraid to try anything there because it all sounded ‘so different’. The only things I remember eating were melted cheese in pita and cinnamon covered pita bread, both were delicious & pretty safe choices, I know. It wasn’t until about two years ago (that’s being generous) that I decided to try the food that I so carefully avoided since high school. I went to Moody’s Falafel Palace, which is right near my office, for lunch one day determined to try something. That something was Chicken Shawarma…oh, did you think I was going to say falafel? I eventually tried that, but not before I dedicated myself to trying all the chicken shawarma in Boston I could find and then eat it. It’s funny how many food related memories I have of my life. This challenge will surely be another.
Ingredients & Directions:
- 1 3/4 C Chickpeas (I used canned to save time)
- 2 Cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- 1 Small Onion, chopped
- 1 tsp Ground Coriander
- 1 T Ground Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, or to taste
- 1 C Chopped Parsley (Mint or Cilantro works as well)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 T Lemon Juice
- Oil, for frying (I used Canola)
I diced the onions using my mother’s lovely marble cat cutting board. Only the best in Cat Lady Cooking styles at my house.
Pour Chickpeas into food processor (I used a blender, but that’s only because my food processor is in storage. It worked though.). Add remaining ingredients except oil; pulse until minced but not pureed, scraping sides of bowl down; Keep pulsing until mixture comes together. Taste, adding salt, pepper, cayenne or lemon juice to taste.
Put the oil in a large saucepan to a depth of at least 1 inches; more is better. The narrower the saucepan the less oil you need, but the more oil you use the more falafel you can cook at a time. Turn heat to medium-high and heat oil to about 350 degrees (a pinch of batter will sizzle immediately). Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter and shape into balls.
Fry in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary; total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes.
Remove and place on paper towels to soak up the oil.
The pumpkin tzatziki can be made before the falafel, if you want, and refrigerated. It will last a few days in the refidgerator.
- 2 C Greek Yogurt (strained)
- 2 T Lemon Juice
- 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
- 1 Large Cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1 T Salt for salting cucumbers
- 1 T Dill (Fresh Dill would be best, I used dried)
- 1/2 C Pureed Pumpkin
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.)
Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.
In food processor (I used a Blender & it worked fine) with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then add yogurt and pumpkin. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.) This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.
The part that I looked forward to most was putting the sandwich together and then eating it, obviously.
Chop up the parsley, tomatoes, and onions. This next step is optional (I felt it really added to the sandwich, though). Set the parsley & tomatoes aside for now. In a small frying pan heat a little olive oil, add a clove of garlic and the chopped onions. Saute for a few moments and then add a little ground coriander and red pepper flakes (just eye it) to the mix and saute until the onions are golden.
Cut a pita in half, spread the pumpkin tzatziki on the inside. Cut the falafel in half (I used about 4 of the falafel I made), then add the parsley, tomatoes, and onions to the pocket. This would also be great a roll up (I will be making that for lunch tomorrow!).
Hopefully you’ll enjoy this modern twist on a classic Middle Eastern dish, if so take some time and check out our Project Food Blog profile and remember to vote for us tomorrow!
(Steven & Meg)