This dish is like a walk down memory lane. Back when I was a kid (not too long ago, I am not that old!) Mom used to always get us Falafels and Shwarmas coz she used to frequent the Middle East a lot coz of work. Then I left for Canada. Trust me on this, one can only have so many Subways and all we did was have Subway every single day coz I did not know how to cook back then. That was our only dose of healthy. We used to take the cab to Subway so frequently that once the cab driver suggested we try this place out where he and all his other buddies loved to grab a quick bite. It was also a favorite with the local University students. So we thought of trying it out too.
The place was a cozy little corner joint in a small time mall, and they sold Falafel rolls. Not only were they Value For Money, they were also humongous in size. I could only finish half, so I saved the rest for dinner, but in vain. It was gone from the fridge before evening. No points for guessing that it soon became our staple diet. All those amazing layers wrapped in a huge pita bread, lots of lettuce, finely chopped salad veggies of choice, and a thick layer of Hummus and Falafels. I could not find anything like that post my return to India, not even in the best Falafel serving places. So I decided to make it myself and well, the first bite itself took me back in time :) Okay, enough of yapyap coz it is time to nomnom!! Here's the recipe:
Homemade (Pita Bread + Hummus in a pinch + Salad + Falafels) - All That Extra Oil = Guilt Free Indulgence!
(Or you could just call them Stuffed Pita Pockets)
Note: Please don't be freaked out by the long list of ingredients. Trust me this is very easy to make!
3 cups flour (2 cups all purpose + 1 cup whole wheat)
2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/2 cup Lukewarm Water
1 tablespoon Sugar/Honey
Extra Flour for dusting
(Or you could just skip all this and get store bought pita bread :P Or even bread will work if you ask me!)
Now on to the other stuff:
2 1/2 cups of boiled Chickpeas (Or you could just use the 16 oz canned version. Don't throw the water though!)
1/4 cup of the boiled chickpeas residual water (Those who are using the canned chickpeas can use the residual water here)
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Medium sized Onion
A handful of Coriander Leaves
6 cloves of Garlic
1 tablespoon Cumin Seeds
1.5 tablespoons Tahini (Or just add 2 tablespoons roasted Sesame seeds)
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Oil for frying the Falafels
1 cup chopped Lettuce Leaves
1 Medium Onion Sliced finely, then marinated in the juice of one lemon, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar.
2 hard Tomatoes, finely chopped
2 small Cucumbers, finely chopped
The Pita Bread:
Mix sugar in water until dissolved. Then add in the Yeast and let the vessel sit covered for 10 minutes or so.
In the mean time, sift both the flours together, add in your Salt and Olive Oil.
When the 10 minutes are over, your yeasty mixture should look something like this.
Add this water to your flour and knead the dough well. Use more water if desired, but make sure you add it little at a time and the water should be lukewarm. You should end up with a soft and pliable dough.
Add this dough to a well oiled container. Now it is ready to rise.
Now the important part, resting your dough. What I do is I microwave 1 cup of water on high, and then keep it inside the microwave itself at one corner, and just next to it place your oiled container with the dough. Now turn your microwave power off and close the door of your microwave, and let the dough rise. The closed space maintains the optimum temperature for the dough to rise well. You need not cover the dough.
After an hour, it would look something like this.
Tip the dough out on your working surface and punch the air out of it so you don't end up with gassy Pitas :D Knead it really well. Divide them into 9 parts and place them on a tray/ plate and let them cover and rise again for 30 minutes
In the mean time Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. By the time it is preheated, your 9 rolls will look like these.
Roll each of them out into a flat bread, about 1/4th of a cm thick and place them in the oven for 3-5 minutes, 2 at a time, and they will get all nice and fluffy.
I like my Pitas a little brown so I also put them on a dry pan for a couple of minutes for browning. I ended up getting some of them a little too brown though :|
In a blender add in your cilantro, onions, cumin seeds, 3 cloves of garlic. chop them up real fine.
add in 1 + 1/4 cup of chickpeas, and blitz away!
Shape them into 12-13 ping pong sized balls and pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Shape them into patties and fry them 6 at a time on a pan, medium heat, adding 1 tablespoon oil each time :)
Hummus in a pinch:
Blitz the remaining chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt to taste, the remaining 3 cloves of garlic, and the chickpea boiling water together :D Hummus is ready! Put it in a bowl and make a well, pour 2 tablespoons Olive Oil in it.
Traditionally the pita would be torn into and all the things be stuffed inside. But I just dumped everything on there. Don't blame me I was hungry.
Chop up your Salad
Take your pita bread and spread some Hummus on it
Then put in 2 Falafels and mash them gently.
Add in all your chopped Salad Veggies, and sprinkle some chaat masala on top, salt if desired!
Fold it up and ATTACK!!!
Note: I know this seems long but I did all the other things while my dough was rising so I ended up saving a lot of time :) Other than the bread every thing else is pretty quick!!