By Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, Lincoln Land Community College
Classes at Lincoln Land Community College have begun, and we are in full swing already. I am the instructor for the “Food Pro” classes, or Food Production 1 through 4. The fall semester is when first year students begin Food Pro 1, and second year students start in Food Pro 3 – American Regional Cuisine.
Last year about this time I wrote about the cuisine of the South, as that was the chapter we were on. Typically we wrap up the semester and study global cuisine, and the students write an essay. This year due to schedule changes on the calendar we are beginning with global cuisine, which makes sense – let’s find out what influenced American cuisine beforehand.
Today’s class was about African and Middle Eastern cuisine. These are some of the oldest dishes we study and to the students surprise it is some of their most liked of all cuisines they try in class. The students picked these two dishes as their favorites.
Falafel – Middle Eastern
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4-6 tablespoons flour (can sub GF flour)
- Soybean or vegetable oil for frying
Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain.
Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours – we only chilled for one hour in class today.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts or use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon. The balls should be about 1 inch round, roll in your palms to smooth and then just barely flatten them (to help decrease cooking time).
Heat 3 inches of oil to 375°F in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little more flour to the mixture. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
NOTE: Canned chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) will not work in this recipe. The starch from the dried, soaked chickpeas is needed to hold the falafel together when cooking.
Kachumbari – African
- 1 red onion medium size
- 3 tomatoes large
- 1 cucumber large
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 jalapeño or any green chili – optional
- fresh cilantro or coriander leaves for garnish
Dice the onions, tomatoes, cucumber and the green chili (if using). Add all the veggies into a bowl, add the cilantro squeeze in the lemon juice, and season with salt and black pepper.
Serve with in pita bread with falafel and cucumber sauce (see below) or any other meal of your choice. Enjoy!
Bonus recipe – Cucumber Sauce
- 16 ounces plain yogurt
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
- pinch kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced
Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and mint. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.