Charlie and Karen Abowd, owners of Adele’s Restaurant in Carson City

Ingredientsplatedsalad

1 pound dried chickpeas. Soak over night. Then bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 hours. Drain and rinse. Now you’re ready to make the falafel.

1 onion cut into large dice

¼ cup whole garlic cloves

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1½ jalapeño peppers, stems removed and pureed or chopped very fine

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup all-purpose flour or ½ cup panko, Japanese bread crumbs (this is my preference)

¼ cup sesame seeds

Spice mix (¼ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon allspice, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground coriander)

Peanut oil, or olive oil (not extra virgin) for frying

Sea salt or kosher salt

Instructions

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In a meat grinder or food processor, pulse the chickpeas, jalapeño peppers, onions, garlic cloves, and cilantro together, so that they are ground but not a paste. If you’re using a food processor, you’ll have to do this in several stages. Mix together in a large bowl.

Add the baking soda, flour, sesame seeds, and spice mix. Mix well. Then add the chickpea mixture and mix again with your hands until everything is incorporated. (In this case, mixing with your hands is essential.) Add plenty of salt to taste (at least a tablespoon if not more.)

When ready to fry, heat oil, which is at least 3 inches deep in a large pot, to 350 degrees. Tightly form falafel into balls or domed discs about an inch and a half in diameter. (Very important that falafel be very tight, otherwise it will disintegrate in oil. If mixture resists being tightly formed add a little bit of cold water.) Gently drop into the oil and fry until dark golden brown and crusty, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels.

Yogurt Tahini Sauce

Ingredients

¼ bunch (about 22 leaves) fresh mint

¼ cucumber, peeled, rough chopped

½ seeded jalapeño pepper, finely diced

1/3 tablespoon lemon juice

1½ cups organic whole milk yogurt (goat yogurt is preferred)

½ cup pure tahini (can be found at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Middle Eastern grocery stores, and other local shops)

Instructions

Place mint leaves in the bowl of a food processor. Roughly chop cucumber and jalapeño, and add to bowl, along with lemon juice. Put yogurt in a separate mixing bowl.

Pulse the cucumber mixture until a slurry is formed. Gently fold into yogurt, and add salt to taste. It’s important to not add yogurt to the food processor, as the fats in the yogurt will break and result in a runny sauce. Spoon yogurt onto the falafel, falafel sandwich, or falafel wrap.

Wrap style

If you want a traditional falafel sandwich, you will need shaved lettuce, chopped cucumber, sliced radishes, and chopped seeded tomato. Serve in pita bread or as a lavash wrap. Top with the yogurt tahini sauce.

For a falafel variation find a recipe for a fattoush salad and add a falafel disc on top with the yogurt tahini sauce. It’s a wonderful addition to an already great salad.

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