Tommy Tsatsaroni's Falafel



...as sold at his pushcart on the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and 55th Street in New York City. His cart is the one closest to the intersection.

Please note: We at WATC have translated Tommy's recipe, which he makes in giant batches for hundreds of people, into a recipe that feeds four. We've tried to duplicate his textures and tastes, with his guidance -- but blame us for any flaws. Incidentally, Tommy urges you to flex your culinary wings and add more or less spices, as you like. For instance, some people add some ground cumin and coriander to the chickpea mix ...

For the chickpea patties:

  • 2 C dried chickpeas
  • 6 C water
  • 10 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 C stemmed parsely
  • 1C stemmed cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C white vinegar
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • Enough corn oil to deep-fry the falafel in a heavy pan or fryer.


    For the pita pockets:

    Four pita, sliced open and warmed in tin foil in the oven


    For the tahini sauce, stir together:
  • 1 C tahini (sesame paste, available at most supermarkets)
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

    If it's too thick, dilute it with cold water and more vinegar


    For the trimmings:
  • Chopped lettuce and tomatoes
  • Fried or grilled sliced eggplant
  • Fried or grilled sliced onions
  • Your favorite hot sauce

    Here's what to do:

    Soak chickpeas in water for 24 hours. Drain and discard the water. Combine all other ingredients for the chickpea patties in a food processor, and blend until the mixture forms a coarse, moist paste. You want lots of tiny pieces of chickpea, not a smooth mush. At this stage, the paste should be wet enough that you can squeeze the paste into a form that holds its shape (say, a disc roughly 2" in diameter and 1/2" thick, or a ball if you prefer), but it should be dry enough that only a little paste sticks to your fingers. It might be a good idea to have some extra chickpeas in reserve, in case you need to add more bulk.

    Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (which will help the paste holds its shape when you're ready to form the falafels).

    Heat corn oil in the fryer to 375 degrees. Start forming the falafels and dropping them into the oil, one by one, as quickly as possible. Fry only as many at a time as your pan can handle without lowering the oil temperature. Otherwise, the falafels will be greasy instead of crisp.

    When the falafels are golden brown, they're done. Drain them on a paper towel.

    Stuff each pita with a layer of falafels, pile on some trimmings, add another layer of falafels, pile on some more trimmings, and then finish it all off with tahini sauce and hot sauce, if you like.

    And feel free to drool.