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Falafel

Makes about 42, or enough to serve 8

Make falafel a day ahead so there's time to soak the dried chickpeas overnight. All the ingredients should be very dry before they're ground so the mixture isn't moist when it's fried. If necessary, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to bind the ingredients. Add chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, shredded lettuce or cabbage, and sliced pickles to the pockets.

TAHINI SAUCE

1cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4cup lemon juice, or more to taste
3/4cup water, or more if needed
2cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Stir the tahini paste well before using. In a bowl, whisk the tahini, lemon juice, and 3/4 cup of water to make a pale cream. Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make the consistency of salad dressing. Stir in the garlic, salt, and pepper.

2. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice or salt, if you like.

FALAFEL

1pound dried chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2large onion, chopped
3cloves garlic, chopped
1/3cup chopped fresh parsley
1tablespoon ground cumin
1tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2tablespoons salt
1/2teaspoon black pepper
Flour (optional)
4-5cups vegetable or canola oil (for frying)
4(or more) 8-inch pita rounds, halved

1. In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas and enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Set aside at room temperature for 24 hours. Drain the chickpeas into a colander. Pat them dry with paper towels.

2. In a food processor, combine 1/3 of the chickpeas with some of the green pepper, jalapeno pepper, onion, garlic, and parsley. Pulse the mixture until it is finely ground. Scrape it into a large bowl and repeat with the same ingredients in similar quantities, working in two more batches.

3. Stir in the cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. The mixture should feel like a slightly moist mash; it won't be sticky or pasty. It should hold together when you squeeze a handful. If it feels too moist, mix in flour (you may need a few tablespoons). Refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour.

4. Set the oven at 250 degrees. Line a large plate with paper towels.

5. In a deep (3-quart) saucepan, heat about 2 1/2 inches of oil until it is between 360 and 370 degrees. Scooping up chickpea mixture 2 tablespoons at a time, form balls. Test the oil by frying one ball; the oil should bubble rapidly and the ball should hold together and turn brown after a few minutes. If the ball does not hold its shape, add a little flour to the dough.

6. Once the oil is hot enough, use a slotted spoon to lower 5 or 6 balls into the oil. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until they're nicely browned. Don't crowd the pan.

7. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Transfer to a baking dish and keep warm in the oven. Continue making falafel until the batter is all used.

8. Stuff each pocket with 4 or 5 falafel, tomatoes, lettuce, and other vegetables. Drizzle with tahini sauce. - Adapted from Cafe Jaffa

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