Saturday, January 10, 2009

Israeli Night

Growing up, one of my favorite parts of summer was going on The March to Jerusalem. Held the first Sunday in June, the March is the Montreal Jewish community's largest walk-a-thon, and a huge fund raiser in the community. Bringing together more than 8,000 people on a 13 kilometer walk, it was always fun to stop at the different stations, picnic in the park with friends, and get some fresh air. My absolute favorite part of the whole day was always the Israeli Street Festival, which is a giant party in the streets, celebrating Israel and its independence. With pony rides, inflatable games, folk dancing, booths offering all kinds of Israeli and Judaic merchandise, and street foods, it's family fun that everyone truly enjoys.

I was lucky enough to be able to share the Festival a couple of years ago with E and my grandmother, taking in the sights and sounds. Together, we enjoyed my favorite street food, Falafel. Falafel, a fried ball or patty made out of fava beans or chickpeas, is extremely common in the Middle East. It's usually served in a pita with tahini (crushed sesame sauce) and a variety of toppings, ranging from lettuce and tomato to pickles and banana peppers. Combining hot and cold, crunchy and crumbly, earthy and lemony, Falafel is one of the most perfect foods around, and completely vegetarian. As Montreal has lebanese restaurants abound that sell falafel, I can usually quash a craving pretty quick. However, here in West Virginia, that's not an option. So, I did what needed to be done: I made my own.

I used Clic Falafel mix, which can commonly be found in Canada at a little over a dollar a box, so my mother sends us boxes upon boxes. I love it because it's super quick and easy - all you add is water to moisten, then form into balls and panfry in a little peanut oil. With 3 - 4 hearty servings, this is one of our favourites. I have yet to find a falafel mix here in the U.S., never mind one that is as good as Clic's - if anyone knows of one, please let me know! If you can't find such a mix, or are feeling ambitious, you can make Falafel from scratch. It's simple to do, and there are plenty of recipes floating around online, such as here, here, and here.

I then made some Jerusalem salad to top the falafel, and Fattouch with extra sumac to serve alongside it, warmed the pita bread, and we had a healthy dinner that was oh so good and super-filling.

adapted from a recipe by Karen Srour
serves 4
  • 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 2 small cucumbers, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped parsley, leaves only, no stems
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, no stems
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon sumac
  • 2 pieces of pita bread toasted until golden brown, broken into pieces the size of a quarter
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper until well combined. Set aside.
  2. Add remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and toss with the prepared dressing.
  3. Serve.

Jerusalem Salad

adapted from a recipe found on VeganYumYum
serves 4

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 firm plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Whisk together Tahini, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well combined, and set aside.
  2. Toss cucumber, tomatoes and parsley in a medium bowl, and toss with prepared dressing. If desired, sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper, mix and serve.


E said...

I know where to get falafel mix locally!

But it's still not as good as the Clic stuff.