I love Middle Eastern food! Love. I’ve been to Turkey (which is the gateway between the Middle East and Europe). I visited Istanbul (not Constantinople), as well as Kuşadası, Selçuk, and Ephesus.
Me on an ancient Roman toilet in Ephesus, Turkey.
In front of ancient ruins in Ephesus.
Me at the Library of Celcus in Selçuk, İzmir Province, Turkey. It was completed in 135 AD by Celsus’ son, Gaius Julius Aquila, and re-erected in 1970-1978 by archaeologists. Celsus’ tomb lies beneath.
Me at The House of the Virgin Mary on Mt. Koressos near Ephesus and Selçuk. I’m in front of the prayer wall, where you write down a desire and put the scroll into the wall. I have no idea what I wished for, but I’m sure it came true. Legend goes that Saint John took Mary here until her Assumption, which is celebrated every year on the day after my birthday, on August 15th.
A few of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes are Mama Ganoush (not a typo, I also like Baba Ganoush), for both of which I’ll post recipes soon; Manti (a lamb-filled Turkish dumpling with a chili yogurt sauce), of which I’ll have to try to create a Paleo/Keto recipe; Shishbarak (in a way, it’s similar to Turkish Manti in that it’s a local variant to ravioli popular in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, but it has a different flavor); Hummus (a/k/a YUMmus!); Fried Kibbe (very easy to adapt to Paleo/Keto), recipe coming soon; and Falafel.
Here is a simple Falafel recipe that I adapted to fit the Ketogenic and Paleo lifestyles. It is also vegan, so even your pickiest of friends will enjoy this. If you have an allergy to almonds, you may wish to replace the almond meal flour with chickpea flour. I don’t have any chickpea flour, so I cannot attest to how the recipe will turn out.
1 cup dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans, soaked overnight (or 12 oz canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed)
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (or 1 tsp ground coriander)
4 cloves of garlic (or 2 tsp minced garlic in oil)
4-6 tablespoons almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (NOT baking soda)
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon cumin
¾ tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (or 1/2-1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper)
Pinch of ground cardamom
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
3-4 tbsp Tahina/Tahini sauce
1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon wedge (up to half a lemon)
1. Pro Tip: Dried chickpeas work better for this recipe. If you use dried chickpeas: Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Soak overnight. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans well. If you use canned chickpeas: Drain chickpeas, pour into a colander and rinse well.
2. Pour chickpeas into your food processor along with the chopped onion, parsley, cilantro/coriander, garlic, almond flour, baking powder, salt, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom.
My food processor broke! I’m using my KitchenAid blender.
3. Pulse all ingredients together, periodically scraping the sides of the processor and pushing the mixture down the sides. Process till the mixture is somewhere between the texture of couscous and a paste. You want the mixture to hold together.
4. Put your falafel mixture into a bowl and use a fork to stir, removing any large chickpea chunks that your processor/blender missed.
5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1-2 hours.
6. Fill a a small saucepan with olive oil to a depth of about 2 inches. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat.
7. While the oil is heating, form round balls with the falafel mixture. You can choose to flatten them into little patties about 1″ thick. If you make patties, you’ll only need about 1.5″ of oil in the pan.
8. When oil is heated properly, drop your balls (or patties) into the oil. Pro Tip: I know my oil is ready when I put a drop of water into it and it splashes up and sizzles. Because, as you know, oil and water don’t mix.
9. Cook your balls (or patties) for approximately 2-3 minutes. If they are not immersed in the oil, cook them about 2-3 minutes per side, ensuring that they turn a nice golden-brown color. Remove with a slotted spoon so that the excess oil drops out.
10. I placed them on a paper plate with paper towels so that the extra oils came off (we’re not afraid of fat here at For The Love of Lard, however, I didn’t want my falafel balls to be soggy).
11. Serve with the Lemon Tahini dipping sauce (easy recipe below).
LEMON TAHINI DIPPING SAUCE:
This is the easiest part of the recipe. I purchase tahina/tahini in a jar from my local grocer. Simply take 3-4 tablespoons and put in a small bowl. Add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon wedge (or more if you like) on top, stir with a spoon, and voilà! You have a delicious lemon tahini dipping sauce!
The inside has the nice bright color of the turmeric.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! You can make them for lunch, dinner, or appetizers/snacks, and these make a great addition to your dinner party or cocktail party. Yum. I’m bringing some to my friend Alysia and her doctor boss this evening!
Laziest. Camel. Ever.