Falafel are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, packed with seasoning, and utterly irresistible. Here we essentially supersize these chickpea fritters to make a uniquely delicious burger.
We started by soaking dried chickpeas overnight to soften before grinding them into coarse bits along with onion, herbs, garlic, and spices. Traditional falafel recipes use flour and chickpeas for a dough-like texture, but uncooked flour yielded patties that were dry and bready; instead, we used a microwaved flour paste to add moisture and create a soft interior.
To ensure burger-size falafel, we used a dry measuring cup and dropped scoops of the falafel mixture into a heated skillet and then used the back of a spoon to press each portion into a 3/4-inch-thick patty.
To top off our burgers, we created a sauce -featuring tahini, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice and also added sliced cucumber and quick pickled red onions for a burger so flavourful we may never go back to falafel wrapped in pita bread.
FALAFEL BURGERS WITH TAHINI-YOGURT SAUCE
Start to finish: 1 hour
8 ounces dried chickpeas, picked over and rinsed
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra as needed
4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired
1/4 English cucumber, sliced thin
1/2 cup Quick Pickled Red Onions (recipe follows)
Place chickpeas in large container and cover with water by 2 to 3 inches. Soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain well.
Whisk tahini, yogurt, and lemon juice in medium bowl until smooth. Season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste; set aside. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; let come to room temperature and stir to recombine before serving.)
Process cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne in food processor until mixture is finely ground, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add chickpeas and pulse 6 times. Continue to pulse until chickpeas are coarsely chopped and resemble sesame seeds, about 6 more pulses. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.
Whisk flour and 1/3 cup water in bowl until no lumps remain. Microwave, whisking every 10 seconds, until mixture thickens to stiff, smooth, pudding-like consistency that forms mound when dropped from end of whisk into bowl, 40 to 80 seconds. Stir baking powder into flour paste. Add flour paste to chickpea mixture and, using rubber spatula, mix until fully incorporated. (Falafel mixture can be refrigerated for up to 2 hours.)
Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Using 1 cup measure, drop 4 even portions (about 3/4 cup each) into skillet, then press each portion into 3/4-inch-thick patty with back of spoon. Cook until golden brown and crisp on first side, 4 to 6 minutes. Using 2 spatulas, gently flip patties and cook until well browned and crisp on second side, 4 to 6 minutes, adding extra oil as needed if skillet looks dry. Serve burgers on buns, topped with cucumber, pickled onions, and tahini-yogurt sauce.
Quick Pickled Red Onion
Makes about 1 cup
Pickled onions are an absolute breeze to make—just a few minutes of hands-on preparation plus a 30-minute brine bath transform simple slices of red onion into a vibrant topping for burgers. Look for a firm, dry onion with thin, shiny skin and a deep purple colour.
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 red onion, halved and sliced thin through root end
Bring vinegar, sugar, and salt to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Off heat, stir in onion, cover, and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Serve. (Pickled onions can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 1 week.)