The best thing about this challenge is forcing myself to make things I’d probably never try to do at home. This time – falafel.
We picked kosher as a challenge for this week for a few reasons – mostly because Rosh Hashanah ran from Sunday to Tuesday this week (the 13th to the 15th) and Yom Kippur is next week Tuesday to Wednesday (22nd to the 23rd). Though neither Lisa nor I are Jewish, we’re a little familiar with the holidays and thought it would be a great opportunity to try a new style of cooking and learn something while we’re at it. I’ve given a little bit of an overview, with some sources at the end, it was fascinating to research. Please let me know if I’m wrong on any of this, i!
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the biggest holidays in the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and is considered a day of reflection. The 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (meaning the Day of Atonement) should be spent in reflection on past mistakes, and how to become a better person. Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, atoning for your sins, and prayer that ends with a festival.
The kosher laws, set by the Torah, define what is appropriate for Jewish people to eat. Historically, there is no one answer as to why the laws restrict some foods, but allow others. Kosher food is not blessed, nor is there a specific type of food that is or is not kosher. Instead food must be prepared in a certain way, in a certain kitchen in order to earn a commercial kosher certification or follow kosher laws.
Kosher foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy, and pareve. Meat must come from an animal that chews its cud and has split (cloven) hooves: cows, sheep, and goats – but not rabbits and kangaroos. Dairy must come from a kosher animal – and meat and dairy cannot be eaten together (so no cheeseburgers). Pareve is what is leftover – eggs, pasta, juices, etc. All must be prepare in a kosher kitchen.
Because my kitchen is most certainly not kosher, I decided to find a recipe that fits the kosher rules – no mixing of meat and dairy, nothing that comes from a non-kosher animal – falafel won out. The added bonus of falafel is that it is a traditional middle eastern food often found in Israel and Palestine (which is also where they make the best falafel).
The recipe called for the falafel to be baked – which is fantastic (healthier and plus safer and easier than frying it).
Chopping up some parsley.
Chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, and a whole ton of spices into the food processor – pulsing away until they’re blended. Mix the combo up with some oil, form into balls, and pop in the oven.
The inside of my apartment smells absolutely delicious at this point.
The recipe calls for tahini, which is a sauce made of sesame paste, lemon, water, and salt. I skipped the cucumber tomato salad that the original recipe recommended. The rest I stashed in the freezer for later.
What can I do better:
- Mix or pulse the mixture for longer. I didn’t get the chickpeas, parsley, and cilantro small enough so they would stay in the balls and they crumbled a bit after baking. If any one has tips on this I’d really appreciate it.
- I put too much salt and lemon in the tahini – plus I’d add some garlic. I’d also try tzatziki next time.
All-in-all this was seriously delicious and easy, and I’d really recommend it to anyone. Thanks to my Mom for lending me the food processor and the mini-muffin tin.
Come back next week – the challenge is freezing!
Original recipe: Baked Falafel with Tahini