Falafel Recipe

Twin Fritters: Falafel in Israel, Acarajé in Brazil

As a Jewish girl born and raised in Brazil, I can’t help but compare, cherish—and cook Falafel, one of the most iconic foods of Israel, to Acarajés, one of the most iconic foods of Brazil. They are first-degree cousins! Better yet, they are twins. Twin Fritters! Well, non-identical of course. One lives in Israel, one lives in Brazil.

Twin Fritters Falafel and Acaraje
A young Baiana frying Acarajés in there sweets of Bahia, Brazil.

 

Falafel is made with raw chickpeas; Acarajé is made with raw black-eyed beans.

They are both soaked in water for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator but never cooked. The beans will cook when they fry but not before then. In fact, if you cook the beans or use cooked canned beans—for both, the batter will simply melt away in the oil and you end up with a disaster. But don’t worry, once the beans are soaked and pureed in the food processor, they fry beautifully, and they hold quite well.

Twin Fritters

For both Falafel and Acarajé, the beans are pureed with raw onions.

In Brazil, we season the Acarajé with salt, pepper, cayenne, and a bit of paprika.

In Israel, we season the falafel with salt, jalapeno, cumin, and coriander—and fresh herbs, very important—giving that bright green color and fresh taste to the batter. Sesame seeds and garlic also go in the falafel mixture.

When seasoning, I encourage you to try lots of combinations and know that these little twin fitters can stand up to lots of hot seasoning.

In Israel, falafels are rolled and shaped into a walnut-size ball and stuffed in pita bread along with hummus, Israeli chopped salad, and Tzatziki sauce made with yogurt and/or sour cream and dill.

Acarajé looks like a big meatball and there is no bread around it. The acarajé is a vessel for the stuffing. When fried, the baianas split them in half with a serrated knife and ask what kind of filling you would like. The options are chopped salad, very similar to the Israeli chopped salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, although in Brazil you’ll see bell-pepper as well;

Vatapá (a mixture of fish, shrimp, peanuts, cashews, bread, coconut, and palm oil)

Vatapa Twin Fritters
Vatapá

 

or Caruru (made with okra, dried shrimps, coconut, cashews, and peanuts).

Caruru
Caruru

 

Falafel is fried in canola or vegetable oil. Acarajé is fried in palm oil (iconic foods), yielding that reddish-orange vibrant color on the fritter.

Acarajes
Acarajés frying in palm oil.

 

You can find the recipe for Acarajé in my cookbook The Brazilian Kitchen (e-mail me if you’d like more info).

To the Twin Fritters, Lechaim (in Hebrew) and Saúde (in Portuguese)!

 

This recipe for Falafel is adapted from Adeena Sussman’s cookbook Sababa.

You might also like other recipes from Sababa’s cookbook and other Israeli dishes on my website.

Eggplant and Tomato Galette

Short Ribs with  Eggplant, Silan and Nigela Seeds 

Tahini Caramel Tart

 

Falafel

Makes about 24 falafel balls

 

Ingredients:

2/3 cups dried chickpeas

1 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves

1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

½ onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves

½ small jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Canola or Vegetable Oil for Frying

 

Prepare the Chickpeas: Place the chickpeas in a bowl, cover with 4 inches of water and soak in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, place them in the bowl of a food processor, and process until they’re pulverized into large crumb-like pieces, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the parsley and cilantro to the processor with the onion, garlic, jalapeno, and 2 tablespoons of water and pulse until a unified and bright green mixture is formed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary, 20 to 30 seconds (add an extra tablespoon of water if necessary).

In a small bowl, combine the salt, cumin, coriander, and sesame seeds. Just before frying the falafel, add the spices to the food processor and pulse until incorporated, 10-15 pulses.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until it reads 350˚F on a candy thermometer, or a small piece of white bread begins to sizzle and brown immediately when dropped into the oil.  Set a colander over a bowl or line a plate with paper towels. Using two spoons or a small ice cream scoop, shape the falafel into balls the size of small walnuts. Fry in batches, making sure not to over crowd the skillet or let the oil temperature drop below about 340˚F, until deep golden, 1-2 minutes but no more. Serve hot, seasoning with more salt if desired.

 

 

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Tahini Caramel Tart

Take a bite of this Tahini Caramel Tart! Right through the screen!

Tahini, a sesame seed paste that has long satisfied the Mediterranean palate is finding a much wider audience. It has the potential to rival peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter.

According to Adeena Sussman, an expert in Israeli cooking and author of Sababa, where this recipe is featured, “Tahini is made from sesame seeds that are soaked in water (sometimes salted), then crushed so the hull separates from the tender inner germ. The seeds are then run through a centrifuge to separate and dispose of the waste before being roasted and finally ground between huge millstones to produce the tahini everyone in Israel knows.”

In a regular supermarket, among the many brands of tahini available nowadays, you will find Joyva Sesame Tahini, Seed & Mill Organic Tahini, Ziiyad All-Natural Tahini, and Roland Organic Tahini. Whole Foods has also created its own 365 Organic version.

Smooth tahini paste has become a favorite among chefs and home cooks, as Israeli cuisine is gaining more popularity. Not surprisingly, it is on the menu at places that specialize in Mediterranean cooking and home cooks are discovering that it is as handy to have in the kitchen as peanut butter.

It’s also turning up in sweet dishes, like this delicious Tahini Caramel Tart. Caramel Tarts started to show up a good 20 years ago, but this one, made with tahini in the caramel is pretty special. As you see in the recipe, it calls for ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Use it. The caramel really needs this whole amount of salt, or else, it’s going to be too sweet.

When I first made this tart and photographed it for this blog, I ended up skipping the Labaneh whipped cream. Since then, I made this tart a few more times, including the whipped cream, which does add a good complement. As you can tell, this recipe quickly became a regular in my kitchen, and I hope it becomes a regular in your kitchen too.

I’m slowly working my way through Sussman’s book. You might also like this recipe for Eggplant and Tomato Galette from Adeena Sussman’s Sababa.

 

Tahini Caramel Tart Cooking Show

Tahini Caramel Tart

Adapted from Sababa by Adeena Sussman

Serves 12 to 14

 

Chocolate Shortbread Crust

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

 

Tahini Caramel

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup heavy cream

½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

3 tablespoons Asian (date syrup)

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1/3 cup pure tahini paste

 

Labaneh Whipped Cream

2/3 cup heavy cream

½ cup 4-Hour Labaneh, or Greek Yogurt

1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

 

Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confection sugar at medium-high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary, until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and sesame seeds. And beat until just incorporated 15 to 20 seconds. Gather the dough, then press it into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Freeze for 10 minutes, then bake until the crust is golden and flaky but still soft, 25 minutes. Cool Completely.

While the tart is cooling, make the caramel: Place the granulated sugar in a medium saucepan (try to use one with a few inches headroom) and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water on top of it. Turn the heat to medium, bring to a boil, then increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the sugar turns syrupy and the color of light caramel, about 7 minutes ( be careful here; it can burn, so take it off the heat a few seconds early if you’re in doubt and swirl gently if one area begins to darken more than others). Remove the syrup from the heat, then immediately add the cream, brown sugar, butter, and silan and stir until the butter is melted. The mixture will sputter, then may harden in parts, but don’t worry. Place the saucepan back on the stove. Bring the mixture to a low simmer over low heat and simmer until it’s a deep mahogany color, 11 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, whisk in the salt and then the tahini until smooth, and pour into the baked tart crust. Cool slightly, then chill until the tart is set, at least 4 hours (but overnight is best).

Make the Whipped Cream: just before serving, in a stand mixer fitted with the whish attachment, whip the cream until soft peaks form, 2 minutes. Add the labaneh and confectioner’s sugar and whip until soft peaks return, 1 minute. Remove the tart from the fridge, slice, and serve with the whipped cream.

 

More Israeli Recipes:

Jeweled Rice with Carrots

Passover Brisket with Prunes & Carrots

Short Ribs with Eggplant, Silan, and Nigela Seeds

Matzo Buttercrunch

 

I’m so happy that you visited today!

Make sure to share this story with someone who cares about this topic.

You can buy my cookbooks on Amazon: Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook;

I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook.

Visit my YouTube Chanel @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz

I’d love to connect with you!

Follow my food adventures on social media;

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Contact me

See you next time!

Leticia

 

 

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