WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF BULGUR FALAFEL?
Which people first pureed a bunch of vegetables, threw in some thickening agent like wheat or bulgur, and then fried the crap out of it? If you guessed America, close but the vegetables make that a no. Falafel is a Middle Eastern street food. Supposedly it was invented in Egypt but spread to surrounding neighborhoods due to its’ awesomeness. There is some friction among their Arab neighbors when Israeli restaurants feature “Israeli falafel.” The reality is that food is the ultimate viral meme. Whoever invented this dish becomes secondary to how successfully falafel has colonized the world via its’ unwitting slaves (that’s all humanity by the way). What corn has done in North and South America, this recipe has done in the Middle East. Turks and Greeks might fight over coffee, Mexico and New Mexico over “Mexican” food, but in this part of the world falafel is king!
SUGGESTIONS WHEN MAKING BULGUR FALAFEL?
Bulgur is an ancient wheat and also the potential landmine in this mix. Think of it as a substitute for rice. Just pour boiling water into it and let sit for 20 minutes or so. Make sure you cover it to trap the steam. Bulgar in general can be a bit chewy so check the texture before you uncover to make sure it is cooked enough for you. If you want to give bulgur more of a nutty flavor, dry roast this wheat before boiling. Many experts rave that bulgur is the best ingredient (vs. wheat or breadcrumbs) for falafel.
WHAT GOES WITH BULGUR FALAFEL?
Yogurt sauces like tahini are never a bad idea. Bulgur aside, this dish is most often made with a mix of chickpeas and favabeans. Author Salma Hage offers a different version using bulgur wheat in her book The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook. This recipe calls for for Lebanese 7-spice mixture. You can find it here. Try these falafels in a pita with our Garlic Scape Green Goddess Dressing. Read our review of The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook here!