I fell in love with falafel in Paris. My best friend, studying at the Sorbonne for a semester, took me to a little cranny of a place near the Latin Quarter. I had to wonder what French delicacies I could have been filling my belly with while we were en route to a Middle Eastern mom and pop shop. She promised, "You'll die over this sandwich." Never one to poo poo death by food, I followed her. We passed crepe carts, restaurants touting foods I'd only heard from Julia Child's high pitched pipes, eateries Rick Steves would have approved of. But no. Falafel or bust. There I stood, holding a paper-wrapped flatbread- hot and slightly charred. Cumin hit my nose first, then a bright whiff of parsley. The open end of the rolled dough revealed crusty brown patties, slightly glazed from the fryer. Flecks of green, red, and honey colored grain in the form of tabbouleh. A drizzle of tahini. I looked to Sabrina in a way that said, "This better be good," and took my first bite.
She hadn't exaggerated. Crispy yet crumbly falafel, richly spiced yet balanced with notes of fresh parsley and lemon. The flatbread perfectly buttered and doughy. The tahini sauce, creamy and cool, the ultimate compliment. I immediately wondered what the customs policy was on traveling with food in your suitcase. And how long will falafel stay fresh? Those firsts of eating, the times when you explore new dishes and cuisines, are memorable. They are tastes that transcend time. Five years later and I'm still thinking about that falafel sandwich eaten with my best friend in the streets of Paris. And of the dozens of times I've eaten falafel since, none can quite compare.
These falafel burgers were born from my nostalgic craving. Me seeking to transform the traditional small patties to a larger, more substantial burger. The recipe belongs to Rachael Ray, who like me, tries to turn everything into a burger at one time or another. All you need to do to make these deliciously spiced burgers is to combine parsley, garlic...
drained and rinsed chickpeas...
along with hefty spoonfuls of flour, turmeric, chili powder, coriander, and cumin into the bowl of your food processor
Pulse a few times to ensure that the mixture is well combined
I even added a heaping half cup of freshly grated zucchini because I bought more than one should ever buy at one time. That's what happens when you go to the farmers market with a full wallet.
Form the mixture evenly into four large patties and fry them for about 6 minutes in a skillet heated with 1/4 cup oil, flipping halfway.
Top the burgers with tahini sauce, lettuce, tomato, and tabbouleh if you like! Serve on a bun or in a warmed pita pocket.
For the full recipe:
-Andrea Mitchell, Foodista staff and blogger at CanYouStayForDinner.com