ersatz falafel


When is a falafel not a falafel? When it’s this, more or less. Another recipe from my ummah cookbook, one that I had bookmarked to try once I got around to buying bulgur.

Chick Pea and Bulgur Patties
adapted from Classic Vegetarian Cooking of the Middle East and North Africa

1 C dry bulgur
2 C chick peas, prepared (the recipe calls for a 19oz can; I had cooked-from-dried ready)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped (no need to mince if you don’t have a press)
1/4 C fresh cilantro, finely chopped
[2 eggs]
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon allspice
pinch cayenne
1 C flour
salt & pepper

Note: these are supposed to be fried in oil. I chose to bake them. I also added the egg, which is not in the original recipe, because I had my doubts about everything holding together. Omit if the mixture is sticky enough on its own.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prepare the bulgur according to type. I have course, which I had to cook it first. The finer grinds can just be soaked in boiling water for five minutes, like couscous.

Combine everything but the flour in a food processor and achieve a paste — I was content with a pretty course chop, but you might want to smooth it out.

Add flour and combine. If it’s too dry, add the eggs or just use water if you’d like to keep this vegan. If it’s too moist, add flour.

Form into balls the size of walnuts. [If you’re baking, you might want to move up to golf balls, since this will make many, many walnuts.] Flatten each ball so that you’ve gone from walnuts to hockey pucks.

Space them out on a baking sheet. You don’t need to worry too much about proximity — they won’t spread.

Bake 15 minutes, or until underside is golden brown. Flip, then bake 10 minutes more. This will depend on the size of the patties, so be a little paranoid the first batch so you don’t dry them out.

Keep going until done. Using half-sheets, it still took me three batches.

bulgur_peasI used cooked-from-dried chickpeas, since I had some in the freezer, but I think this is a recipe where using the can would be preferable. Canned beans are softer and moister, which are attributes you’re looking for in a recipe like this.

patty_prepI had hopes for using the blender for this, since it’s sort of like hummus, which is blender-able, and I don’t own a food processor. However, I ended up using the grinder attachment on the KitchenAid when the blender gave me those ‘are you kidding me?’ looks.

egg_adjustmentThe left is what I got after following the recipe; the right is what it looked like after I added the egg. I was guesstimating quantity with firmer, drier chickpeas, so don’t add the egg or water until you see that you need it.

patties_panThe last batch, halfway through. You can tell I worked right to left here. Also that I really, really didn’t want to make a fourth batch with just two patties on it.

patty_splitA somewhat less-than-perfectly photographed cross-section. The dip is just cilantro and plain yogurt, since it was getting pretty late and I didn’t have any tzadziki or tahini sauce recipes to hand. However, since this recipe makes enough to freeze half and still be eating it for three days, I can always go with one of those options when I defrost some. The cilantro sauce was quite serviceable, though — simple and a nice complement to the cilantro in the patties.


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