March 5, 2020
Hi everyone. Do you ever just crave crispy falafel wrapped in a puffy, light, tender naan with sliced, crunchy cucumber, turmeric scented buttery rice, drizzled with a creamy, tangy yogurt sauce? If so, this is the meal for you. It has a few steps but please don't let that deter you. None of them are super complicated and with some proper time management and planning, you can ABSOLUTELY make this and succeed!. And I urge (beg) you to because it's delicious!
This whole fabulous idea came from Half Baked Harvest. However, I wasn't happy with some of the components. The falafel called for canned chickpeas. Since I was a newbie at this I didn't realize that this is a BIG no-no in the falafel world. You absolutely MUST use dried, soaked beans. If you use canned, you end up with mushy, gummy falafel. No Bueno. The naan recipe also left me underwhelmed. It uses baking soda and the resulting texture was too dense and thick, not light and fluffy like we all want our naan to be. I did more research and visited a few different sites and finally found the perfect combination of ingredients and methods. My husband was in ecstasy last night and he ate two huge wraps. One important point to remember is you must soak the dried chickpeas overnight, so that will take some planning. Please make this and when you do, leave me a comment!
Step 1) THE NIGHT BEFORE: Soak the 1 1/4 C dried chickpeas in enough water to cover by at least two inches. Set aside.
Step 2) Make the Naan Dough (Borrowed from Cook with Minali)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 3 - 4 tablespoons, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water (if too hot yeast will die, if too cold yeast won't activate. So, around 110° F)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast, NOT instant yeast ok?
3 tablespoons neutral oil (I used avocado)
1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt (I used full-fat)
1/2 stick butter, melted (for brushing the naan)
Salt to taste
In a medium bowl, mix together the 3 1/4 cups flour and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes to proof. You will see the mixture get foamy and bubbly on top. That is because the yeast is eating the sugar (it likes sweets) and then releasing gas (carbon dioxide) which ultimately helps the naan puff up when cooked. If you don't see any bubble action, it could be that your yeast was old, or your water was too hot or too cold. I would try to get your hands on some other yeast before proceeding and proof it again.
Add the oil, milk, and yogurt and whisk until combined. You can then put the bowl on your stand mixer and at low speed start adding the flour one cup at a time, mixing with the dough hook. Scrape the sides and bottom when needed to make sure you are incorporating all the flour.
Start adding the remaining tablespoons of flour, one tablespoon at a time. It should feel somewhat sticky and tacky when you touch it, but not so wet that your finger gets covered in a gooey, doughy, mess. I added all of the four tablespoons of flour.
Mix the dough on medium speed for about 2 minutes until smooth. Transfer to a bowl that has been lightly swiped with oil. Cover and let sit until it has doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce, slice your cucumbers and make your falafel mixture. Continue with the rolling and cooking of the naan dough when you are done with those three steps.
Step 3) Make the Very Special Yogurt Sauce (Adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, grated or minced (recipe calls for 2 cloves but I don't like that much raw garlic flavor)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
This is a quick and easy step. You can just put it in the fridge when you're done and forget about it until it's time to devour everything. I doubled the recipe, you are going to want a lot of this.
Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and correct for salt. I found it needed more than just a pinch to offset the sweet and sour flavor profile. Cover and put in the fridge.
Step 4) Slice cucumbers (I used about 1/2 of an English Cucumber), cover and put in the fridge.
Step 5) Make the Falafel Mixture (Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem Cookbook)
1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher for all my cooking)
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
about 3 cups flavorless oil (Canola, Safflower)
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
Drain the chickpeas and add to the food processor along with the onion, garlic, and cilantro. Pulse the mixture until the pieces are chopped/minced fine. Don't "over" purée this until it's all perfectly smooth. This will make the texture too gummy. You don't want that. So be careful and keep pulsing.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, (excluding the oil and the sesame seeds). Mix with a wooden spoon and taste. I ended up adding more cayenne, cumin, and salt. It's up to you. The mixture might seem too crumbly like it won't hold together when you try to make the balls. Don't worry. It's going to sit in the fridge for at least an hour (longer is better) so the flavors and textures can hang out and do their thing. Now you can continue with the rolling and cooking of the naan dough.
Step 6) Roll and Cook Naan Dough
Preheat your oven to whatever setting keeps things "warm".
When the dough is ready, divide into 8 equal pieces. I weighed my dough because I wanted each piece to be as equal as possible. Roll each piece into a ball, cover and let sit another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt your butter and have another sheet pan or dish nearby.
Heat your pan over medium heat. I used my 14-inch cast iron. Take one ball at a time and roll out to about 1/8-inch thickness. I highly recommend these rolling pins. If the dough begins to stick, sprinkle with a little flour. It should be longer than it is wide, more oval-shaped than round. Transfer the dough to the hot pan and let it cook there undisturbed for about 2 minutes. You will see bubbles forming on the surface (kind of like how you know when a pancake is ready to flip? Yes?) When the bubbles are there, flip the dough over with tongs and place directly onto the gas flame of another burner over low heat. Cook for another 2 minutes. That side will get some wonderful darker spots, giving your naan that classic, bubbly, charred look. Remove and place on a dish or sheet tray, brush both sides with butter and sprinkle with salt. Place in the warm oven while you roll and cook the rest of the naan. Once you get the hang of it, it's really easy. While you cook one piece you can start rolling the next. Yipee!
Step 7) Scoop and Fry Falafel
Pour the oil into a pan (I used my 14-inch cast iron). You want the oil to come up 2 - 3 inches on the side of the pan. Scoop the falafel into balls about 1-2 tablespoons in size. (I use this purple scoop which is perfect). I also tried a larger scoop and enjoyed the bigger size too so any size will do. If the mixture falls apart a little don't lose your marbles. Wet your hands and gently press it together. If they don't form perfect balls, who cares. No one!! Finish scooping all the falafel and sprinkle the sesame seeds all over them.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Have a sheet pan lined with paper towels nearby. Test the hotness of the oil by adding a tiny drop of the falafel. The oil is ready when the falafel sizzles IMMEDIATELY when it hits the oil. If that's what you got, start adding your balls, maybe 6 - 8 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Don't overcrowd the pan because this will bring the oil temperature down and it will get too cool. Cook about 5 minutes making sure that all sides turn a dark, golden color. Remove the falafel from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on the sheet pan. Sprinkle immediately with salt and please don't wait to do that. Keep your sheet pan of falafel in the oven while you fry the remaining balls.
Step 8) Make Turmeric Scented Rice (Borrowed from Half Baked Harvest)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup long grain rice (jasmine, basmati)
pinch of salt to taste
2 cups water
Melt the butter in a medium pot over low heat, add the turmeric, red pepper flakes and salt and stir to combine. Add the rice and stir to coat.
Pour the water into the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid!
After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit another fifteen minutes with the cover still on. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and taste and correct for salt.
Take one of the naan wraps, spread some of the rice over it, top with a few falafel balls, toss on some sliced cucumber and drizzle with lots of the yogurt sauce. Add other toppings if you desire, like harrissa, avocado, and lettuce.
Step 9) DEVOUR AND ENJOY!