Do you use brown sugar ? If yes, then you know that brown sugar shows a marked tendency to turn lumpy and a little hard. I use only brown sugar and find myself trying to break out the lumps in them with the back of a spoon before measuring it out for either tea or other cooking. I came across this tip recently in a book (I cannot remember which one ) which has now made this struggle with brown sugar a thing of the past for me. The book suggested that to break up the sugar we should place the sugar in a microwave safe bowl and place it in the microwave beside a mug filled with water and zap it for about 2 minutes on high heat. I tried this, a little nervously initially, since I had this fear that heating the sugar would cause it to start melting. But I was wrong, in a couple of minutes the hardest lumps from the sugar disintegrated. So try this if you are having problems with your brown sugar forming lumps, only do remember to cool the sugar to room temperature before storing it back in an airtight container.
Moving on, falafel is a fried ball or patty made out of spiced chickpeas. Wikipedia classifies falafel as a fast food from the middle east. For those of you who have not tried this but are familiar with Indian cuisine, this dish may remind you a little of masala vadai. Falafel though classified as a fast food can be quite healthy except for the fact that it is fried. So when I came across this recipe on Kalyn's site, the idea of baking the falafel appealed to me a great deal. I tried it and was really glad I did, the falafel turned out crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, just the way I like it.
Ingredients and Method to make the baked Falafel
1 cup dry chickpeas (kabuli channa) soaked in sufficient water with 1/8 tsp of baking soda for 8 hours (the soda is optional)
1 small yellow onion (cut fine)
half a handful of parsley (cut fine)
half a handful of cilantro (cut fine)
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt (or according to taste)
1 tsp baking powder
All Purpose Flour (Maida) as required to bind (it took me about 4 to 5 tsp all purpose flour)
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
about 1 tsp of oil to brush on top of the falafel (optional)
Soak the dry chickpeas in sufficient water with 1/8 tsp of baking soda (the soda is optional ) for about 8 hours or overnight.
Drain the soaked chickpeas well.
Place the soaked chickpeas along with cut onions, parsley, cilantro, cumin powder, minced garlic, crushed red pepper,cumin powder, baking powder and salt in a food processor and grind to get a coarse thick bread crumb like texture.
Add the all purpose flour and use the pulse feature on the food processor until it binds together slightly.
Add more flour if the mixture does not seem to bind. If you take the mixture in your palm and make a fist, the mixture should hold together.
Chill this mixture in the refrigerator for about 2 to 3 hours ( I placed this mixture in the refrigerator overnight and made the falafel patty the next day)
Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Form the mixture into lemon sized balls and flatten it a little and place it on the lined baking sheet about half an inch apart. If you plan to use oil you can brush a little on each patty at this point.
Bake about 20 to 30 minutes turning once in between.
Remove from the oven and serve hot with any yogurt dip of choice, or use in a wrap or for some fusion use this patty in a burger.
The number of patties will depend on the size of each of them.
I tried one batch with oil and one without oil and frankly did not see the oil enhancing the taste very much, so you can easily skip this if you wish.
It is important that the chickpeas are drained thoroughly before being placed in the food processor. If the water is not drained then the chick peas may turn a little mushy and may need more flour to bind.