A really good falafel sandwich is up there with what I consider one of the best meals out there — for vegetarians or not. In fact, when my friend, Ali, and I ate our way through Paris a few years ago we both agreed our falafel in the famed Marais was arguably one of our best meals (unless, you count a ridiculously delicious cheese cart as a meal).
The falafel themselves are good. They are generally crunchy (since they are fried) and usually have enough fresh herbs to make them flavorful. The trick, however, to an amazing falafel sandwich, is in the toppings.
My sister, Lee, sent me to her favorite falafel joint in NYC (Taim) last time I was there. Now, New Yorkers know their falafel. In downtown NYC there is a falafel spot on every corner. This version came in a pita and was served with a variety of delicious toppings, including a tahini sauce and pickled cabbage. It was memorable.
One day recently, while flipping through a magazine, it dawned on me that I had never made a homemade falafel before. I have done the mix that you turn into dough and cook, but never from scratch. I couldn’t understand why I had never taken that task on. They aren’t hard to make. I think it must have been the frying that scared me. I don’t like to fry at home.
Anyway, I decided it was time and the cooking ensued.
The falafel themselves were pretty easy. You prep a little and blend it all together in a food processor. Pan-frying them was no big deal either. I went heavy on the fresh herbs and mine came out a beautiful green color. What did take a while was prepping the toppings.
As I said, toppings and sauces can make or break a good falafel sandwich.
I started with the sauce provided here. It is a great accompaniment to these falafel. Make it a little spicier if you prefer a kick by adding some hot sauce, too. Next, I set out a spread of add-ons.
I chopped pickled red beets (the sandwich standout), lettuce, carrots and caramelized onions. I also had some spicy red peppers that I threw in just for fun. I heated some naan (which I think is better than those dried out pitas you find in stores) and we each made our sandwiches to our desire.
I added a generous spread of the yogurt sauce and all the toppings and two falafel. It may not have been eaten in a café in Paris or on the streets of New York, but it was good and I will do this recipe again!