For those nights when you get home hungry, stressed, and impatient, Hangry is here to help. Each Monday, Kendra Vaculin will share quick, exciting meals to rescue anyone who might be anxiously eyeing a box of minute rice.
Today: What's filling, fried, and green all over? This falafel is not a joke.
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A top-five food group is the one named Things Mashed Up Together and Then Fried. Sometimes called fritters or pancakes, they are a sneaky way to get vegetables and legumes into the bodies of picky eaters, and also make for a grade-A post-midnight snack food option. The OG mashed up and fried thing, for the uneducated among us, is falafel.
My defining falafel moment happened last February in Brussels, on the street after a concert. Very cold and very starving, I popped into the nearest shwarma/durum wrap/doner kebab outpost -- the ubiquitous late-night roundup of seemingly all of Europe -- and ordered a vegetarian pita slathered in tzatziki. The falafel was perfect: herby green on the inside and golden-fried on the outside, little bits of actual heaven cradled by my bread pocket, music to my ringing ears. Everything else around me disappeared.
When I came crashing back to reality, I was standing in the lobby of my hostel, holding only a saucy wax paper wrapper, the house where a magnificent sandwich had once lived. I had no recollection of the walk home, only of taking bite after bite of crispy chickpea goodness while, ostensibly, my legs carried me 10 blocks up Boulevard Anspachlaan.
I cannot recreate that falafel sandwich's level of perfection, probably because it used the secret and inimitable flavoring of a European adventure, but the mashed and fried things detailed below come pretty darn close. If I were you, I’d whip out your food processor immediately -- and then maybe also a Google Maps street view of your favorite foreign city.