Falafel Pita Sandwich
EVENT: SUNDAY FUNDAY
RECIPE: FALAFEL PITA SANDWICH
Falafel Pita Sandwich is a quintessential sandwich from the Middle Eastern Cuisine. Falafel along with tomato, cucumber, salad are stuffed in pita pockets and served with either hummus or tahini sauce. Though is has many components or ingredients it is quite easy to put this sandwich together. These days it is easy to find pita bread, falafel, hummus or tahini in most supermarkets.
What is a Sandwich?
Sandwich is a food item whereby cheese, meat, other fillings are placed between two slices of bread. Having said that, these days sandwiches don’t necessarily come between two slices of bread. One can use wraps, buns, rotis, naans, pita, basically any kind of bread. Fillings vary from vegetables, cheese, meat, fish to even leftover food.
Some of My Favourite Sandwiches
My all time favourites and must haves are actually two.. in two different countries. One is Bombay Sandwich which is sold in Santa Cruz (W) just outside Friendship Shop. Loaded with chutneys, sliced potatoes, cucumber, tomato and cheese it is one sandwich you have to try out if you’re ever in Mumbai.
The second one is Egg and Cress Sandwich from Marks and Spencer in UK. Yes my family thinks I’m crazy as I always have on whenever I’m in London! Was it the whole experience of actually being able to buy ready made sandwich which I experienced many years ago or just the fact that it tastes good… don’t know!
When it comes to homemade sandwiches the all time favourite is Vegetable Masala Sandwich. Peas, potatoes, carrots are cooked with spices and onion. The filling is then stuffed between two slices of bread and grilled. Here we don’t use any electrical grill or sandwich maker but a traditional Indian toaster which in Gujarati is called a ‘Chumcho’.
My other favourite is Paneer Chutney Sandwich which I love enjoying as a light meal or for breakfast.
Origins Of Sandwich?
The word sandwich may have originated from a story about John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. It is believed that around 1762, he asked his cook to prepare him a meal which could be consumed during his 24 hour gambling session without him using a fork and knife and the cards becoming greasy. The cook served a piece of meat between two slices of bread. Pretty soon others started ordering ‘A Sandwich’. But history says that sandwiches existed way before the Earl of Sandwich or rather his cook made them popular. The Jewish sage Hillel the Elder would wrap meat with bitter herb in a soft matzah, a soft unleavened bread during Passover.
Pita Bread/ Pita Pockets
Generally the pita bread we get at the local supermarket in Mombasa is made from plain flour and usually is stale. Therefore, I prefer to bake my own. Leftover pita bread is then baked till it becomes crispy and used as pita chips with a dip or added to a salad. I usually make them using whole wheat flour and little plain flour. Sometimes I make Sourdough Pita Bread. Making Sourdough Pita Bread requires a bit of planning as the sourdough starter needs to be fed.
If you’re making pita bread at home, the amount of water required for the dough will depend entirely on the flours used. Some flours have a tendency to soak in more liquid than others.
While I’ve used ready made falafel in Canada and UK, it is a task getting ready made falafel in Mombasa. So, I prepare them at home. Making falafel at home is not difficult at all. You just need to remember to soak the chickpeas overnight or at least for 6-8 hours. Here, you cannot use cooked, canned, tinned chickpeas to make the falafel.
When I make falafel for pita sandwich, I prefer to flatten the pattis rather than roll them into balls. So much easier to stuff into the pita pocket.
On occasions I have used various dal bhajias instead of falafel. Usually when I make Vatidar Na Bhajia, I make an extra batch so the following day I can use them to prepare pita sandwich. You have to try it with the coconut mango chutney…it is simply delicious.
Hummus or Tahini
I usually like to keep the salad filling simple, some salad leaves, sliced tomatoes and cucumber. Occasionally, I use Coleslaw. But make sure that it does not have too much dressing or the pita bread will go soggy.
Sunday Funday is a group of Food Bloggers. Every Sunday we share some fun, traditional, hearty or easy recipes to make Sunday Family Meals a bit more exciting. To join this fun group, visit the Sunday Funday Facebook Page. Request to join in.
For this week Wendy who blogs at A Day in the Life on the Farm suggested we share sandwich recipes to celebrate National Sandwich Month. In fact August is the National Sandwich Month. In 1952, the Wheat Flour Institute (US) dedicated August as National Sandwich Month. Newspapers across the country filled their pages with sandwich recipes fit for the Earl of Sandwich and picnics alike. The annual observance continues today.
Check the Sandwiches Fellow Members Have Made To Celebrate National Sandwich Month:
- Bombay Chapatti Sandwich by Sneha’s Recipe
- Chicken Bacon Pressed Picnic Sandwiches by Making Miracles
- Club Sandwich by Amy’s Cooking Adventures
- Falafel Pita Sandwich by Mayuri’s Jikoni
- French Dip Sandwich au Jus (Slow Cooker) by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Grilled Kielbasa Sandwiches by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Homemade Muffuletta by Food Lust People
- Is it, Or Isn’t It, a Sandwich? by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Submarine Bites with Sub Sauce by Palatable Pastime
- Zucchini and Carrot Vegetable Sandwich by Cook with Renu
FALAFEL PITA SANDWICH
FOR THE WHOLEWHEAT PITA BREAD:
- 2½ cups wheat flour atta
- 1 cup plain flour all purpose flour
- 1-1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp instant dry active yeast
- 1- 1¼ cups warm water
- 2 tbsp oil
- extra flour for dusting
FOR THE FALAFEL:
- 1 cup chickpeas dried
- 1 small onion peeled and chopped roughly
- 4-6 cloves garlic peeled
- ¼ cup coriander chopped
- ¼ cup mint chopped
- ¼ tsp soda bicarbonate baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp coarse pepper powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- ½ -1 tsp cayenne pepper
- oil for deep frying
FOR THE SPINACH HUMMUS:
- 1 cup chickpeas cooked
- 1 cup spinach roughly chopped
- ¼ cup sesame seeds roasted
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 10-12 mint leaves
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
FOR THE SALAD FILLING:
- 1 medium English Cucumber sliced
- 1-2 large tomatoes sliced
- 2 handfuls salad leaves
- 1 cup spring onion chopped
PREPARATION OF WHOLEWHEAT PITA BREAD:
- Sieve both the flours with salt.
- Add sugar and yeast and mix.
- Add oil and rub into the flour.
- Make a dough using the warm water.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes till it is smooth.
- Form a ball, smear oil over it and put in a greased bowl. Cover with cling film and let it rise till its double the size. This will take about 1½ hours.
- Punch the dough down gently. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Divide the dough into 8-10 parts.
- Roll each part using flour into an oval shape, approx. 4" X 6" and about ¼ of an inch thick.
- Place the rolled pita on a greased baking tray. Rest the rolled pita for 5 minutes.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- In between turn them over. They should puff up.
- After 10 minutes remove from the oven.
- Bake the remaining pita if any are left.
- Cover the pita bread with a cloth till required.
- If you like you can cook the rolled pita bread on a griddle pan instead of the oven.
- Cook till bubbles appear on the bread and then flip it over. It does puff up on its own.
PREPARATION OF FALAFEL:
- Soak chickpeas for the falafel overnight or for 6 hours in warm water.
- Drain out the water using a sieve or colander.
- Wash the chickpeas under running water.
- Process the chickpeas in a food processor along with chopped coriander, mint, garlic, onion to get a coarse batter or mixture.
- Add salt, baking soda, pepper, cayenne, cumin, coriander powders, sesame seeds.
- Mix the batter well.
- Divide the batter or mixture into 12-14 parts.
- Shape the falafel into balls or discs. I prefer flattened discs as it makes it easier to stuff them into the pita bread.
- Heat the oil for frying over medium heat.
- To test if the oil is hot, drop a small piece of batter in the oil. If it comes up immediately then the oil is ready.
- Deep fry the falafel, turning them over frequently with a slotted or spider spoon. Fry them till they become golden brown in colour.
- Repeat with the remaining falafel.
PREPARATION OF SPINACH HUMMUS
- Process all the ingredients in a food processor or liquidizer.
- Remove into a serving bowl.
- Top with extra olive oil If you wish.
- Warm the pita bread on both sides under a hot grill or a griddle pan.
- Cut into half.
- Smear the inside of the pita pockets with hummus.
- Arrange tomato and cucumber slices in the pocket.
- Add a falafel.
- Top with salad leaves and chopped spring onion.
- Serve falafel pita sandwich with extra hummus on the side
- Add green chilli to hummus if you like.
- If you get tahini sauce add that to the hummus instead of sesame seeds.
Keep the pita bread wrapped in a cloth and in a closed container as they tend to get dry.
- To make plain hummus, omit adding spinach leaves.
- Deep fry the falafel just before you want to serve the sandwich. Or you can deep fry them and warm them up in the oven before serving.
- Can use ready made pita bread and falafel if you wish.
- Cut leftover pita bread into smaller pieces and bake at 150C till they become crispy. Enjoy pita chips with your favourite dip.
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