Are you familiar with Yemen?
I wasn’t either, except that my mother and several relatives had been there and told me about this magical place.
Very ancient civilizations flourished in Yemen; it was believed to have been the home of the Queen of Sheba; it was a center for myrrh and frankincense trade (in the port city of Aden). Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen, was named a World Heritage Site by the Unesco. It is considered an ecological marvel, with hundreds of endemic species of plants and birds (found nowhere else on earth).
Unfortunately, today Yemen is very poor. Friends and relatives who visited the country recently mention that children there do not beg, they simply ask tourists for pencils. Yemen’s population is mostly young and unemployment is at 65%.
Well, this is a Yemeni falafel that I had to tweak because the recipe called for dried rehydrated green beans; so to make it work I gave it a Southern touch and added cornmeal, a little like a hush puppy. It gave the batter body and a nice texture for frying.
- 1 pound of green beans
- 2 jalapeño peppers (can substitute 1 teaspoon of hot paprika or Aleppo pepper)
- 1 large onion
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cloves of garlic, mashed with a dash of salt
- 2 egg whites or one whole egg (optional)
- 1 cup of cornmeal or polenta (or semolina)
- 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or other nuts (optional)
- 2 cups of oil, for frying
- hummus, to serve with or plain yogurt with a tablespoon of wasabi mayo
Recipe widely tweaked from melh wa-succar #17
First of all, place the green beans in a bowl and pour several cups of boiling water on them; when the water reaches room temperature, drain them and cut off the ends and chop them in half lengthwise.
- Quarter the onion and place in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until chopped and then add the other ingredients, such as dried coriander, salt, jalapeño peppers, cumin, garlic and all the green beans, chopped in half lengthwise. Process until the mixture is nicely chopped up and add the cornmeal and eggs, process a few seconds longer and let it sit for a while.
- Heat some oil in a skillet, about 2 inches deep; when the oil is hot (at about 375F), take some cornmeal and pour into a small bowl. Take a cookie scooper, dip in water and dip in cornmeal. Now scoop out some falafel batter, dip in the cornmeal bowl and gently plop into the hot oil. Be careful not to get oil splashes, as it will cause serious burns.
- Flip on the other side each falafel after one minute of frying. Remove and place on paper towels to soak up the oil. Serve with hummus or yogurt spiked with wasabi mayo.
NOTE: The original recipe only called for rehydrated dried green beans, onion, garlic, chilis and spices. I added the cornmeal and the eggs and the pecans. The batter was too runny without these ingredients in my opinion. You can skip the chili peppers but add some spice to give it a kick like paprika or chile powder or cinnamon.
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