"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Falafel Fail

by Julie Tilsner on June 29, 2010

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

Falafel for dummies For someone who was undoubtedly Middle Eastern in a previous life, my first attempt at making falafel really blew chunks.

I had thought that using a falafel mix would significantly up my chances of a successful first attempt. Alas. Add water and mix is apparently still beyond my skill set. Maybe I was a bad home cook in all my previous lives as well.

Falafel! We go way back, even before the kibbutz, where I quickly learned to hate the stuff.

Yeah, see. In Israel it was All Falafel All the Time. Every time we’d go into town, falafel! It’s the Middle-eastern equivalent of fast food. There’s no escaping it. And after a while, it all starts tasting the same – fried, beany, cuminy …I can’t really stand the stuff anymore, although the stuff I bought from a family store in Jerusalem, fresh off the grill, stands out in my memory. (maybe it was more the danger of being in that part of town on a Shabbat).

But I can see the larger picture. Even though I don’t particularly like it anymore, falafel has great potential in my household, where both nits profess to love it. They like pita bread. And tomatoes. And maybe that creamy stuff that goes in there (what is that? Can I make it? Do I dare?).They will tolerate a small bit of lettuce. If I could figure out how to make passable falafel, I would have another rare addition to my dinner rotation. The idea of making my own falafel from scratch is intriguing and daunting at the same time. You know how I feel about chickpeas, after all. But you also know what happens when I get uppity about my basic cooking skills.

Hence, a simple mix.

Alas, the road to hell, yadda yadda yadda. Back to the mix. I suppose if I had written down the very simple instructions instead of thinking I could memorize them I might have made edible falafel. But when you second-guess your ability to memorize one single measurement of water you’re in pretty grim shape. All it took was one cup of falafel mix to some portion of water. I mean, I can remember my kids’ birthdays. I can recall all the words to Bowie’s “Life on Mars.” Why couldn’t I remember whether you mix one cup of falafel mix with three-fourths cup of water or one-half cup of water?


Falefel fail

I mixed it with one-half cup water, and fried the patties up in olive oil.The results were not pretty.Why go into detail? Look at the photo and judge for yourself.

Even if I had gotten the mix proportion right, my falafel patties wouldn’t have worked out right. Just tonight I was relating my disaster to my neighbor down the street, who asked me how long I had let the batter sit.


“Well you can’t just mix it and fry them up just then,” she said, blinking, apparently surprised that I did not know this. “You have to let it sit and absorb the mix a bit.”

That I did not know this greatly disheartens me.

And also pisses me off. What the hell is wrong with me. Just for that, I’m gonna try to make falafels from scratch next time. It’s gonna be a real hoot.

Stay tuned.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer June 30, 2010 at 9:51 am

I want to be there when you try from scratch! Either I’ll learn what to do – or what not to do – either way it is a win! PS I think the picture looks great…maybe you had to be there…hmmm


Sharon July 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Try baking them, instead of frying. Not as authentic, but easier and healthier.


Bruce July 11, 2010 at 8:01 am

The creamy stuff is either tahini or tzatziki sauce. You can make both of them, but tahini is MUCH easier to buy. Tzatziki is easy to make. Here’s a good recipe:
Although you might want to experiment with mint instead of dill.


Eva July 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm

awww I’ve wanted to make falafel and haven’t tried it yet. i have several recipes saved that i keep meaning to make. i look forward to how your new ones come out!


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