Meet meat-lafel! Rhymes with awful, but isn’t.
A former trip to Israel had me pining for really good falafel. Not that falafel is difficult or not good stateside, it’s just never green enough. The greener the better! So I started to dig a little on how to make these wonderful little-fried bean balls, and whether or not I could add meat to them.
I don’t know why exactly I thought falafel was mysterious and difficult to make. It’s neither. The biggest inconvenience is that you have to start with dry beans and do an overnight soak. After that, however, the “dough” keeps well in the fridge for a few days. I’m even guessing you could freeze it and it would be just fine.
Once you have soaked and drained the beans, you literally just put everything in the food processor until it’s the consistency of “not yet hummus.” Form into balls and shallow fry. If you are prone to deep frying, you can do that as well. It’s so easy, in fact, my little wheels started turning about what else I could do with the falafel “dough.”
I, of course, decided to add a little ground elk to the whole mixture. This is not, after all, a vegetarian blog. I was pretty happy with the way they turned out. It was denser than your typical falafel, as one might guess, but lighter and fluffier than a traditional meatball. And, as long as you stick with venison or lamb and don’t eat it with dairy, it’s still even kosher/halal. Next time, maybe I will do falafel encased scotch eggs. Or something equally weird and delicious.
A little note – my falafel mix was actually not green enough! Dangit. I adjusted the recipe to include more mint and parsley. Because that’s how I will be making it from here on out.
- 1 pound dry garbanzo beans about 2 cups
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 2 bunches parsely stems removed
- 1 bunch mint stems removed
- 5 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 1/2 tbsp flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
- pinch ground cardamom
- 1/2 pound ground venison
- 1/4 cup frying oil
- tahini for serving
Cover the garbanzo beans with about 3 inches of water in a large bowl. Let sit overnight. Drain.
Add the beans, onion, garlic, herbs, spices and flour to a food processor and blend until you get a coarse paste. If the mixture seems a little too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour.
Remove to a bowl and add in the meat. Mix with your hands until the meat is well incorporated into the mixture. Roll into balls about the size of meatballs, and slightly flatten them.
Heat a skillet with 1/4 inch oil over medium-high heat. Start with one ball and fry about 3 minutes per side, until it's golden brown and cooked all the way through. Test the ball to make sure it cooks all the way through. Then, fry up the rest of the balls, removing them to a paper towel to drain as you work in batches.
Serve hot in a pita with tahini sauce or tzatziki sauce (if you're not worried about kosher eating).
Non-game substitution: Lamb would be a great choice, but any ground meat will work.
Vegetarian substitution: Omit the meat.