2018 Bahrain GP: Falafel with homemade Pita

Bahrain is one of those enigmatic places that you just can't place your finger on. It is a clash and mix of cultures that make it lovely, full of life, and fantastical. On top of it all, the race is a night race which shines bright and adds that element of sparkle to the race calendar. This race tends to include plenty of passing opportunities and makes for exciting racing and lots of drama. This year did not disappoint! 

As for dinner, it also did not disappoint. I found some amazing recipes for some Bahraini favorites: Falafel, Pita Bread, and Tzatziki. As mentioned previously, these tasty Middle Eastern bites are not indigenous to Bahrain but favorites nonetheless. We also made some fabulous hummus and finished it off with Baklava, so yummy! (Recipes to come.)

Falafel

FALAFEL

From Epicurious

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
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 red and  1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt to taste

1. 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. 

2. 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.

3. 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 ball and pulls away from the sides of the food processor. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

4. Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts. (Before rolling all the balls you may want to test one to check that it stays in the formed ball when fried.)

5. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375ºF in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 5 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

6. Mix tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and bell peppers with lemon juice and olive oil, salt to taste. 

7. Serve with tzatziki and chopped vegetable salad. Serve in pitas or simply with a fork and knife!

 

Pita

PITA BREAD

From Serious Eats

1 cup (8 ounces) water, 105–110°F
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1. Mix water, oil, sugar, yeast, salt, and whole wheat flour with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth. Stir in all-purpose flour until the mixture comes together into a shaggy mass.

2. Using clean hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and very elastic, adding only very small amounts of extra flour if dough is extremely sticky (see note). Alternatively, knead dough at low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment until dough is very elastic and smooth, about 8 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and form into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a clean mixing bowl and place the dough inside, then rub oiled hands over the top of the dough. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, place a baking stone on the top oven rack and preheat oven to 500°F. Line a plate with a large, clean kitchen towel and set aside.

5. Punch down the dough, transfer to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into 6 even pieces. Form each dough piece into an even ball. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

6. Roll each piece of dough into a 7-inch circle, no more than 1/4 inch thick, taking care not to tear dough and keeping the thickness even all around. Place dough disks on a lightly floured surface, cover with a damp towel, and let proof until slightly puffy, about 20 minutes.

7. Working with as many pitas as will fit on the stone at once, pick up each pita and place onto the stone top side down. Immediately close the oven door and bake until pitas have puffed and are slightly golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to over-bake. Place baked pitas onto towel-lined plate and wrap with the overhanging towel. Repeat with any remaining pitas.

8. Heat a cast iron skillet on high heat until smoking. Working with one pita at a time, briefly heat each side until charred in a few spots, about 30 seconds. Return pita to towel and cover. Repeat with remaining pitas and serve immediately. Alternatively if you have a gas stove simply toast pita over flame being careful to be quick so as not to burn the pitas on either side. 

 

Tzatziki

Tzatziki

½ medium cucumber
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1clove garlic minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
salt to taste

Partially peel  and grate half a cucumber. Squeeze grated cucumber to remove excess water. In a small bowl combine grated cucumber, yogurt,  juice and zest of  the lemon, grated or minced garlic, and a pinch of salt.