Cooking Class: Falafel – The Original “Veggie Burger” with Jennifer Abadi - Context Travel

Cooking Class: Falafel – The Original “Veggie Burger” with Jennifer Abadi


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What makes falafel so versatile, and where does it come from? In this hands-on cooking class, learn a little bit about the history of one of the world’s oldest fast food and how to make it at home.

Falafel —deep-fried chickpea balls served on a platter or stuffed into a pita pocket — are a common street food in the Middle East. While the true origin of this ancient dish is still up for debate, some historians theorize that fava bean croquettes were prepared by Egyptian (Christian) Copts looking for a meat replacement during Lent. As the recipe traveled through the Levantine regions of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and parts of Turkey and Greece, fava beans were eventually replaced with chickpeas.

Over the last few decades, these crispy golden fritters have become a popular plant-based menu option for both high-end and fast-food restaurants throughout the world. Naturally vegan, falafel is now the go-to dish for those seeking a healthier non-dairy/vegetarian alternative.

Led by Sephardic and Middle Eastern food instructor, Syrian cookbook author, and recipe preserver Jennifer Abadi, this interactive hands-on seminar will teach you how to prepare three different versions of falafel (traditional deep-fried, pan-fried, and baked) and how to serve it stuffed in a pita (street food style) or on a platter (restaurant style). Vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike will be excited to learn how to recreate one of the most loved street foods in their own kitchens. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the flavors and techniques of this popular food and how it continues to evolve in the world today.

Below are the items you’ll want to participate in this class. We will email attendees the full recipe with measurements and instructions prior to the class so that you can pre-measure ingredients before joining.

Please note: Soaking dried chickpeas for 24 hours in cold water with baking soda is the preferable way to prepare falafel.

Ingredients: (serves 6, makes about 18 falafel balls)

  • Dried chickpeas (1 cup) OR: canned chickpeas (2 cups drained)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Baking soda (if using dried chickpeas) AND baking powder
  • All-purpose flour, chickpea flour, or rice flour (2 tablespoons; if using canned chickpeas)
  • Coriander (cilantro) and/or flat leaf parsley leaves (1½ cups; if using dried chickpeas)
  • Coriander (cilantro) and/or flat leaf parsley leaves (½ cup; if using canned chickpeas)
  • Coriander (cilantro) leaves (optional; 1 tablespoon finely chopped)
  • Parsley (2 tablespoons finely chopped)
  • Scallions or onions (½ cup coarsely chopped)
  • Garlic (1 teaspoon coarsely chopped)
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
  • Vegetable, canola, safflower (2 cups; grapeseed or peanut oil are better for frying)
  • All-purpose flour, chickpea flour or rice flour (¼ cup; if using canned chickpeas)
  • Tahini/sesame paste
  • Pita bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, and sour pickles (for serving)
  • Store-bought or homemade hummos (optional; for serving)

Equipment:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large chef's/chopping knife and cutting board
  • Mixing bowl and spoon
  • Small saucepan for frying
  • Plate with paper towels, for draining falafel
  • Food processor

    Jennifer Abadi is a native New Yorker, born, bred and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She is half Sephardic (Aleppo, Syria) and half Ashkenazic (Riga, Latvia). She is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Judeo-Arabic and Sephardic recipes and food customs, focusing on the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa. She is the author of two cookbooks: "Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe" and "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen." Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC), as well as privately. Jennifer has been providing Jewish Food & Culture tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for Context Travel since 2012."

    This conversation is suitable for all ages

    90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

    Customer Reviews

    Based on 6 reviews
    100%
    (6)
    0%
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    P
    P.U.
    Excellent!!

    Really knowledgeable.
    Appreciated that she took the time to make them three different ways. Excellent teacher

    A
    A.

    Guest did not leave comment

    L
    L.P.
    Enjoyable and Informative

    Jennifer was warm and engaging, responsive to questions, and the class was very enjoyable and informative. I really enjoyed the origin of falafel and derivation of the word, in addition of course, to the recipe, and techniques for making and serving it.

    B
    B.C.
    Well organized, 2 great recipes, easy to cook along with

    I appreciated getting the recipe ahead of time so I could prep and cook along. Jennifer is a great teacher and well prepared for the class. I will look for more of her classes.

    N
    N.
    Fantastic Falafel

    Food history plus a cooking class—what could be better. The falafel came out ‘perfect.’ I’ve made falafel from scratch a number of times, and sometimes the recipe just doesn’t work ...Jennifer’s was flawless and my entire family gave rave reviews.

    Customer Reviews

    Based on 6 reviews
    100%
    (6)
    0%
    (0)
    0%
    (0)
    0%
    (0)
    0%
    (0)
    P
    P.U.
    Excellent!!

    Really knowledgeable.
    Appreciated that she took the time to make them three different ways. Excellent teacher

    A
    A.

    Guest did not leave comment

    L
    L.P.
    Enjoyable and Informative

    Jennifer was warm and engaging, responsive to questions, and the class was very enjoyable and informative. I really enjoyed the origin of falafel and derivation of the word, in addition of course, to the recipe, and techniques for making and serving it.

    B
    B.C.
    Well organized, 2 great recipes, easy to cook along with

    I appreciated getting the recipe ahead of time so I could prep and cook along. Jennifer is a great teacher and well prepared for the class. I will look for more of her classes.

    N
    N.
    Fantastic Falafel

    Food history plus a cooking class—what could be better. The falafel came out ‘perfect.’ I’ve made falafel from scratch a number of times, and sometimes the recipe just doesn’t work ...Jennifer’s was flawless and my entire family gave rave reviews.