When we lived in Chicago JonPaul and I had this Greek restaurant we loved, The Pita Inn (Chicago friends, don’t laugh, you know you love it too). While it may not have been a Michelin star restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, it was soo good. They made, hands down, the best falafels around. Ever since our move to the east coast we have been searching for our “Pita Inn”, but have yet to find it. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and come up with a falafel recipe of my own. And I am happy to report that these spicy falafels are just as good, if not better, than what I was hoping for.
For me, the key to a really great falafel is all about texture. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with just enough of a crumble that it’s begging to be smothered in tzatziki sauce. Because let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure the only reason I really love falafels is for an excuse to have more tzatziki in my life.
I love a little heat in my falafel too, so I added sriracha and chili powder to give it a little extra zing. The subtle heat holds up really well to the cool crisp tzatziki. It was if they were made for each other.
While these spicy falafels are absolutely delicious just on their own, one of my favorite ways to enjoy them is in a pita covered with some of my favorite toppings. Here I toasted up some of our favorite pitas, added a little cucumber, and then finished it off with this tart and bright carrot and cabbage slaw to balance everything out and add a little crunch.
I love adding quick slaws to my sandwiches. They bring a tart element to the mix and add some much needed crunch. This one couldn’t be simpler. It’s just a few carrots and cabbage grated up and tossed with some red wine vinegar and parsley. It took only minutes to prepare, but took the sandwich to a whole new level.
So while I may not be able to drive over the the Pitta Inn for take out these days, my falafel game is still just as strong.
- For the Spicy Sriracha Falafels
- 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
- 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 large shallots, quartered
- 1 bunch of parsley, rinsed/dried and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp of cumin
- 1 tsp of chili powder
- 1 tbsp of sriracha sauce
- ½ tsp of baking soda
- 1 tbsp of flour
- For the Carrot Slaw
- 3 large carrots, grated
- ½ red cabbage, grated
- 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- handful of roughly chopped parsley
- salt/pepper to taste
- For the Pita Sandwich
- 2 of your favorite pitas, toasted
- 1/4 cup of homemade tzatziki sauce
- 4 spicy falafels
- ½ cup of carrot slaw
- ¼ of an english cucumber, sliced
- a few leafs of romaine lettuce, chopped
- For the Sriracha Falafels
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees
- Drain and rinse garbanzo beans. Place on a cookie sheet and place in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes to completely dry out the beans. (the beans should almost start "cracking" open. Really dry beans make a big difference in this recipe).
- In a food processor, place shallots, garlic and parsley. Pulse 10-15 times for about 3 seconds each to finely chop. Add dried garbanzo beans, cumin, chili powder and siraccha. Pulse again 10-15 times for 3 seconds each, or until beans form a crumbly grainy texture (don't over pulse where it becomes a paste). You know it's ready when you can grab a small spoonful and form a ball that sticks together.
- Transfer to a bowl and mix in baking soda, and flour. Do not overmix.
- Using a small melon baller, scoop out falafel dough and form 8 small bowls. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Using your finger tips, gently press down on the balls to form small "disks".
- Place cookie sheet in the fridge for one hour. (you could also chill the falafel dough before forming the disks, but I find that they falafels keep their shape better if they cook chilled straight from the fridge.)
- Over medium/low heat, in a non-stick pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Place all 8 falafels in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer falafels back to the cookie sheet until ready to serve.
- For the Carrot Slaw
- In a bowl, combine grated carrot, cabbage, vinegar, oil, and parsley. Mix together. Add salt/pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!
- To create the Pita Sandwich
- On top of each toasted pita, add a few tbsp of tzatziki, a few slices of cucumber, romaine lettuce, a generous scoop of carrot slaw, and 2-3 falafels. Serve and enjoy!