Another lovely gathering of the south-east London tribe girls, this time at my flat. We were a somewhat smaller gathering than usual, as Sarah’s still at home with new arrival Florence Belle (congratulations!!!!) and others had other commitments. But Elke, Iratxe, Anja and I managed to magic up a feast of felafel, pita breads, hummous, tzatziki and tehina, while little Irene, Ella and Lukas learned a few new things about chickpeas and vacuum cleaners…
Once you’ve soaked up a couple of bowlfuls of chickpeas, both hummous and felafel are wonderfully easy (and economical) things to make. For the effort involved, it’s worth having at least half a dozen people round – we made enough to feed four hungry adults and everyone took some home for their partners. This is food for crowds, preferably crowds that’ll help you clean the bits of ground-up chickpea and garlic and parsley off every kitchen surface. If you just have a craving for felafel for, say, one or two people, I’d say go along to Burrough Market or else to a decent Lebanese or any other middle Eastern restaurant and get them to make it for you…
225 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
juice of half a lemon
about half a cup of cooking water from the chickpeas
1/2 to 3/4 cup flour
vegetable oil for frying
1. Drain the chickpeas and wash well.
2. Blitz the chickpeas in a food processor with the baking powder, seasonings, garlic and parsley. Leave it for about half an hour for the flavours to mingle. You can leave it longer if you like – you can do up to this bit the day before, if you like.
3. Add just enough cooking water and flour to make a mixture that holds its shape when you make little balls. The trick to making the balls is to have a bowl of water on hand – wet your hands before forming each ball to prevent it from turning into a big sticky mess.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot. (The sides of the pot will help keep the oil from splattering everywhere, which happens when you use a frying pan. Though I was very glad Iratxe brought an apron!) Fry the balls in batches – about 4 minutes on each side – til they’re golden brown and crispy.
5. Drain on a kitchen towel to get the excess oil off. But the sooner you eat them the yummier they are… Try to wait til the pita breads are ready though!
2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste
juice of 1 (or 2 or 3) lemons, to taste
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
about 1/2 cup olive oil or more
1. Rinse off the soaking water. Simmer the chickpeas on medium heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Put 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda into the cooking water (but NO salt, as salt will make the chickpeas tough). About halfway through the cooking, rinse the chickpeas well and replace the water with freshly boiled water from the kettle. When they’re cooked to soft and smashable, drain off the cooking water and keep some of it aside.
2. Let the cooked chickpeas cool. Cover with some fresh water. Rub them through your fingers to get most of the peels off. You don’t have to get them all off, but rubbing them gently should get lots off, and you can scoop them out of the water with a spoon or with your fingers. Then drain the whole lot again.
3. Blend up the chickpeas in a food processor (or with a hand blender) with the rest of the ingredients and seasonings. If it’s too thick, add a little cooking water. Keep tasting it and adding more seasoning til it rings your hummous chimes.
4. Serve in a nice bowl with more olive oil and finely chopped parsley sprinkled over.
2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar. Mix in about a cup or two of the flour to make a thick batter. Let it bubble up for a few minutes – 5 or 10 minutes should be fine.
2. Stir in the oil and salt. Gradually add the rest of the flour.
3. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes til the dough is smooth and elastic. Set it aside for about 1 1/2 hours until it’s doubled in size.
4. Punch down the dough, and knead it a little more. Then roll it out into a rope and break it into 9 or 10 pieces. Each ball should be about the size of a tangerine – roll them out into flat discs about 4 mm thick. D
ust with flour so they won’t stick to the baking tray.
5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Also preheat the baking tray. Bake the pitas for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. They should puff up with air in the middle.
Tzatziki (subject to corrections by Elke!)
Mix up some yogurt with grated cucumber and salt and lemon juice!
Tahina (yogurt and sesame dressing)
Mix up a few spoonfuls of tahini (sesame paste) into about a cup of yogurt. Squeeze in some lemon juice and lots of chopped parsley. Thin it down with a bit of water til its the consistency of a creamy dressing.
chopped tomato, cucumber, cabbage, and onion (if you like)