Why This Recipe Works
Falafel are a Middle Eastern specialty of savory fried chickpea balls or patties generously seasoned with herbs and spices. The best falafel have a moist, light interior and a well-browned, crisp crust. Traditionally, the chickpeas aren't precooked, but rather are soaked overnight in a saltwater solution; the salt weakens the cell structure of the chickpea skins, allowing the chickpeas to absorb more water and giving them a softer texture. Once the chickpeas were softened, we ground them with fresh herbs and warm spices: scallions, parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon. Then we shaped and fried the falafel. We found that smaller falafel (about 1 tablespoon each) had the perfect ratio of crispy crust to tender interior. They fit nicely into a sandwich, and they were also just the right size—two bites—for an appetizer. We served the falafel with a simple creamy tahini sauce.