I can do amazing things with forty dollars of groceries. Well, at least I can when I have four weeks of idle poverty to plot and plan how best to spend those forty dollars once I finally, finally get them. Well, I got them last week. That, truth be told, was the impetus for this blog. Since September, I've had to put my love of flavorful food on hold. Now it's back -- with a vengeance. So, for your entertainment and edification (ha), I give you the second meal prepared and consumed during this most beautiful and blessed Feast Week, observed with reverence in mid-October of our Lord's year two-thousand and nine:
FALAFEL WITH TZATZIKI AND TOMATO RELISH
Notes: Full-fat Greek-style yogurt is best, but I used the low-fat off-brand non-Greek stuff, and it was still dang good. Definitely drain the grated cucumber. If you have a fine-mesh strainer, voila. If not, I found that mashing the pulp to one side of a bowl and then propping the bowl at an angle for half an hour got out a lot of liquid. A quick squeeze with a paper towel didn't go amiss, either. I added a little orange zest and honey to my tzatziki -- totally untraditional, but yummy. Definitely soak the chickpeas overnight; I soaked them for nine hours and then simmered them for forty minutes, and they were still a bit too dry. A good eighteen-hour soak ain't gonna hurt 'em. Because mine were so dry, I added a couple eggs to bind the mixture, but ground chickpea packs together surprisingly firmly, so I dunno if that was necessary. The tomato relish is just my cheap answer to tabouleh, but it was a good addition. As always, ingredient measurements are very approximate; use them according to taste.
2 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp honey
1/2 TB orange zest (lemon would be good, too)
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp dried crushed mint (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped)
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
ground black pepper
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated, salted, and drained
Mix flavorings with yogurt while cucumber drains. Stir in cucumber. Refrigerate until needed (blending time will improve the flavor).
1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 or so TB leftover fresh chopped herbs
salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients while the falafel fry. DO NOT REFRIGERATE. Refrigeration is the death of tomatoes.
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas (don't use canned), soaked overnight
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
3/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
Pulse all ingredients in food processor or blender until well-combined. Form into golf-sized balls, flatten slightly, and fry in a quarter inch of oil over medium heat until browned. Flip with tongs and brown other side. Drain for a minute on paper towels. Garnish with tzatziki and tomato relish and serve with a side vegetable of your choice. Makes about 4 generous servings.