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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Matzoh Buttercrunch Toffee

Matzo Buttercrunch

Matzoh Buttercrunch Toffee

I write this recipe for Matzo Buttercrunch with a tight heart. As the world is navigating uncertain times with this pandemic, I wanted to come here to my blog and offer help and hope. If there is one thing that hasn’t changed in my life, is the way I feel about cooking, baking, spending time in the kitchen nourishing those we love. Back then, when life was normal, cooking has always been my anchor. OK, it can also be a source of stress sometimes, when I have a big job. But it’s always a good stress, if you know what I mean. Now that the world has turned upside down, cooking is more therapy than ever.

During Passover, we celebrate the exodus of Jewish slaves from Egypt. We do that with many habits and traditions, like abstaining from eating leavened foods for seven days. Instead of bread, we eat Matzoh. You can find it in just about any supermarket. I’m sharing a classic recipe for Matzo Buttercrunch that I discovered through Arthur Schwartz, adapted from his cookbook Jewish Home Cooking. Even if you’re not Jewish, you’re bound to love this recipe! In fact, I have given these treats to friends from all walks of life and they loved it! Everyone does! If you like toffee covered in caramel, you will like this recipe as well. You can top it with almonds, pecans or just about any nuts of your preference. The photos are quite helpful understanding the process. But if you have any questions at all, reach out to me. I’m always here!

 

Matzo Buttercrunch

Adapted from Arthur Schwartz Jewish Home Cooking

Makes one 12 by 15 inch sheet, or about 50 pieces of buttercrunch

 

Ingredients:

4 to 6 matzo boards

1 cup unsalted butter (or parve margarine)

1 cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate Callebeaut, chopped

1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted and roughly chopped

 

  • Pre-heat the 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with silicone mat. Spread the pan with the whole matzo boards, cutting extra pieces to fit any uncovered spaces. You want to leave the matzos as whole as possible, but you don’t want to leave any extra space on the sheet pan without matzah. Also, don’t overlap any pieces of matzo.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and sugar and cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. At first, the mixture will separate, but as you mix constantly, it will come together in a beautiful caramel. Continue boiling and whisking for an extra 3 minutes. Add the cinnamon and whisk well.
  • Immediately pour over the matzos and using an off-set spatula, spread the caramel all over. Do not worry about covering both sides of the matzoh boards; spread only on the side facing up.

Matzoh Buttercrunch Toffee

  • Place the sheet pan with matzoh caramel in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate all over the sheet pan.

Let it stand for 5 minutes, then use an off-set spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly and thinly over the matzos.

Matzoh Buttercrunch Toffee

  • Sprinkle with toasted almonds and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Matzoh Buttercrunch Toffee

  • While the matzo is sill “wet”, cut the candy into squares, or simply, just break it into pieces with your hands. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Bring it bag to room temperature and let it rest and set. At this point, you can keep the matzo buttercrunch in a covered container for up to 1 week, or in the refrigerator for 3 weeks.

 

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