I was first introduced to falafel, hummus, and tahini in my college days in Minneapolis back in the 90’s. The flavors were unlike anything I had ever tried before, and I fell in love with the new tastes and smells. It seemed so “exotic” at the time, which is funny to me now that I’ve tried so many different cuisines and developed a true love for good food around the world.
For many years, I had a lovely neighbor who made the most wonderful Lebanese food – she would bring me fresh hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and baklava whenever she made some for her family. And when she entertained, she always put out the most delicious spread. I haven’t yet tried to make the grape leaves (which are my favorite) but I did make a batch of hummus this week, as well as homemade falafel, a tasty lemon tahini sauce, and some homemade flat bread.
I have made falafel from a mix before, but this was my first time making it 100% from scratch starting with dried chickpeas and I’m pleased overall with how they turned out. The tahini sauce I made to drizzle on them is so good! I think that may be something I just keep in the fridge to use as a dressing. The flat bread recipe was easy, but it was time consuming to fry them all up. I think next time I’ll use an electric griddle so I can do more than 1 or 2 at a time.
I have included links to the original recipes, as well as copied them below. I made a half batch of the hummus, which is more than enough, and cooked the chickpeas in my slow cooker on high for 4 hours using Alton Brown’s recipe. I don’t like a ton of garlic in my hummus, so if that’s your thing you may want to add more.
Original recipe is posted on the Downshiftology blog, and copied below. The only changes I made to the original recipe were to substitute an gluten-free flour blend for the chickpea flour and I used canola oil for pan frying:
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (don’t use canned chickpeas)
- 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
- 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped (about a one large bunch)
- 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (about a one large bunch)
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp gluten-free flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- canola oil for frying
Lemon Tahini Dressing
Original recipe is from Cookie and Kate’s blog post for Best Tahini Sauce Recipe. I have copied it below with the only modification being a little less garlic. This is soooo yummy!
- 3-4 small to medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup tahini
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Pinch of ground cumin
- 6 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
In a medium bowl, combine the garlic and lemon juice. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, to give the garlic time to infuse the lemon juice with flavor.
Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another medium bowl. Press the garlic solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the garlic.
Add the tahini, salt and cumin to the bowl. Whisk until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
Add water 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking after each addition until smooth. (It may seize up, don’t worry.) After about 6 tablespoons, you will have a perfectly creamy and smooth, light-colored tahini sauce.
This is Alton Brown’s recipe, available in the Food Network app or on their website. I made a half batch (which is what is shown below; the full batch version is available at the link above) because I used some of my chickpeas to make falafel so I didn’t have enough, but I’m glad because a half batch is plenty!
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 8 ounces dry chickpeas, sorted and rinsed
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup tahini, stirred well
- 3 tablespoons cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
- Powdered sumac, optional
Place the water, chickpeas, and baking soda in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for 4 hours, or on low heat for 8 to 9 hours, or until tender. Drain and allow to cool at room temperature.
Place the chickpeas, garlic, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Add the lemon juice and water. Process for 20 seconds. Add the tahini. Process for 20 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.
To serve, transfer the hummus to a bowl and drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with sumac, to taste, if desired.
Mediterranean Flat Bread
I found this super easy flat bread recipe on the All Our Way blog. I made no modifications to the recipe, however I did *accidentally* let the dough balls rest a little too long, because I got stuck on a conference call for work. So, then ended up rising a little bit, but they still rolled out easily and puffed up a little bit when I fried them.
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cup warm water (about 100 degrees, warm but not hot to the touch)
- 1/2 cup warm milk (about 100 degrees, warm but not hot to the touch)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 cups flour — keep 1/2 cup out and use as necessary
Great job, I am working on my cookbook for my girls. I will send you the grapeleaves the way you remember them and also my hummus recipie. I have yet to make falafel but had a great one at Leons bakery in Atl. Also Medditeranean Bakery in Atlanta has the best bread and meat spinach pies.They have small and large sizes.
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