Featured image via NY Times
We eat it in a sandwich with salad or tahini, we stuff it with chilli, cheese, and even basterma, but we never thought for a second that it would be the topic of an article in The Guardian. The UK publication set out on an adventure to find the tastiest falafel recipe in the world, and thanks to Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter, they confirmed that the best recipe comes from Egypt.
The secret, they say, is that Egyptians use fava beans to make falafel (aka taameya), instead of using chickpeas like other recipes in the Middle East. A consultation with culinary anthropologist Claudia Roden concurred that fava beans make the falafel lighter and moister, adding much to the flavour and overall experience. She also said that Alexandria boasted the best recipe in Egypt.
While most Cairenes call it taameya, Alexandrians, like the rest of the world, now call it falafel. They’ve got so good at it that restaurants in Cairo offer Alexandrian foul and Alexandrian taameya as a staple on their menus. The adventurous food enthusiasts, Dimbleby and Baxter, ventured to Alexandria to have a taste for themselves, and they were sent to Mohamed Ahmed, one of the most famous restaurants in Alexandria.
They got to meet the man himself and saw him in his work station; forming round falafels and flicking them into hot oil. They even got hands on his own recipe. It takes just over 5 minutes to cook falafel, with a 15-minute preparation, and an overnight soaking. The recipe uses garlic, spring onions, coriander, parsley, cumin, cayenne pepper, and more. It’s all quite elaborate, but to us, we’ve grown accustomed to it.
This is a perfect opportunity to look back at the things we take for granted, and understand that people outside of Egypt may have it in their heart to travel thousands of miles to have a taste and get the recipe. So remember this the next time you bite on a falafel, take a “breadful” of foul, or indulge in a spoon of koshari.