This spread of dishes is typical of the cultural influences you find in the markets across Israel. You’ll find versions of falafel all over the Middle East with each country putting forward their claim to its origins and you’ll find these different varieties in market stalls served with salad, alongside hummus or stuffed into sabich. Kubbeh (also known as kubbe) is a family of dishes with Iraqi and Kurdish origins - it was once almost exclusively made at home by the Iraqi and Kurdish community but has since been brought to the markets of Tel Aviv by Iraqi chefs. The side dish of cauliflower which is charred in an oven, is a dish which in more modern times has been experimented with among chefs around the world - a wave of creativity which built its momentum from chef Eyal Shani.
Falafel shaping and deep frying - you will learn how to test the texture of your falafels, moulding them into the perfect shape for deep frying.
Oven roasting - you will gain an understanding of the maillard reaction, toasting the natural sugars in the cauliflower at high temperatures.
Kubbeh dough making and shaping - Tomer will show you how to create the perfect Kubbeh, making sure the elasticity of the dough holds the dumpling together during the cooking process.
Ingredients You Need
1x large chopping board, 1x pestle & mortar, 1x chef's knife, 1x jug, 1x food processor, 2x high-sided pan, 2x large mixing bowls, 1x spatular, 1x frying pan, 1x microplane, 3x deep bowls, 1x teaspoon, 1x small saucepan , 1x slotted spoon, 1x baking parchment, 1x colander, 1x falafel shaper
Like last week, chuck your dried chickpeas into a deep pan and drown them in water (the more the better) make sure you cover them completely, leaving for 8 - 12 hours (or overnight).
Right guys we're going to start with making our falafel mix, it's a fairly easy process. We're firstly going to roughly chop our veggies, put our chickpeas through a processor and then combine the two.
Starting with our onions we need to peel them and then very roughly chop them. Run through your herbs with your knife. Next chop your green chillis, and decant into a large bowl and add the peeled garlic. Move to your food processor, now with your veggies and chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to your food processor and blend to a chunky pulp. Decant into one of your large mixing bowls and then add your veggies to the processor and blitz to a fine mixture. Don't be afraid to blend this for a while. Add your chickpeas back to the mixer, process once more until we have an even consistency and green colour. Decant into a bowl and then add our dried ground spices and salt.
Into the chickpea mixture, add a splash of water (100ml or so) making a nice wet and moist paste, now our chickpea flour. Mix well to make the crumbly chickpea texture.
Right so our falafel mix is done, we can move onto our kubbeh. Let's start with the dough and then we will work on the broth. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the semolina to give some flavouring and grease to the dough, next water and then with your hand start to bring it together slowly with your fingers, processing it into a flexible dough. Add more semolina as needed. Season with salt. Once mixed, cover with a cloth and leave to one side.
Now, let's dice the onion as fine as we can leaving any large chunks for our soup later. Let's get our pan on the heat with some olive oil, pour your diced onion into the pan and sweat this down for a couple of minutes. Add a pinch of salt and once the onions have begun to soften add your mince meat and really begin to crumble it, break it down and create a fine texture. Right, now i'm going to grab some black pepper and when the meat is brown we can add our dried spices. As you go continue to almost smash the meat and break it down to make the stuffing texture. Leave the mince to carry on cooking and finely slice some coriander. Back over at our stove continue to break down the meat (we should be about 5 minutes away now).
Let's get to work on our veggies for our soup. Roughly chop some onion, garlic (in half), celery and your leek. Move to one side of your board, and then go back to your hob to check on the meat. If you are happy with its colour, remove from the stove and add your chopped coriander, mixing well and then grate your clove of garlic and leave to one side.
Next thing will be the broth. Fire on, to a deep pan add some olive oil and then the veggies. Move the veggies around the pan seasoning with salt to begin with. Next add some nice turmeric and coriander, stir well and then once the veggies have begun to soften, chuck your water in and bring to a simmer. Later we will add our lemon juice and greens and finish off the broth.
Pour your mince into a bowl and then let's look at our dough.
So guys, by now we should have our meat and kubbeh dough. We need to add the leafy greens to our broth and then one by one shape our dumplings and pop them straight in. Let's chop some of the beautiful greens very roughly and then add straight into the soup along with a handful of spinach (if you have some coriander leftovers put those in).
Grab a bowl of water, and then what you want to do is with wet hands, pinch a ping pong ball size piece of dough and then role into a sphere. Slightly flatten and then with a wet thumb start creating a round dumpling shape. Fill with your mince meat and then pinch together like a steamed dumpling or a purse, then with wet hands round, smooth and flatten (check my notes for a more in depth method). The dumpling then goes into the hot broth, to cook. Wiggle your pan ever so slightly when you put your kubbeh in but don't stir. Now repeat across your remaining dough and filling.
Right, quickly wash your hands and then we are almost there. Leave your soup to cook for 30 - 40 minutes on a low temperature.
Now we've had a break and our broth has been cooking our kubbeh, we can add our lemon juice. Start with one whole lemon, mixing it very gently afterwards and then taste for our acidity, adding more lemon juice if needed. Now if we are eating within the hour leave it on a low flame until we are ready, if not, leave it off the heat and it will be absolutely fine.
By now our soup is done, falafel mix is done and now we need to pre-heat our oven to 250°C/480°F for the cauliflower.
We wanna break our cauliflower into bite sized florets. Firstly, start by removing the core of the cauliflower and then separate the florets. Cut any large pieces down so we have as many even bite sized pieces as possible. Add the florets into a bowl and the pre-roasting seasoning is simply olive oil and salt. Add the cauliflower into your screaming hot oven to get charred and gnarly, this will probably take 15 - 20 mins.
Meanwhile we are going to make a very simple sauce that we call GLC (garlic, lemon and chilli). Cut your chilli in half, de-seed it and then cut into a fine dice (check my notes), place into a bowl and then squeeze over the lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and then some finely grated cloves of garlic. Mix well and there is our GLC.
We have some time now till our cauliflower is ready so let's have a clean down and then get ready to fry our falafels.
So now we need to get ready to fry our falafels. To a deep pan add your vegetable oil and place it onto the heat. You want to heat your oil carefully, and when you think it has come to temperature drop a small bit of the mixture into the oil and if it sizzles we are ready to go. So now with your falafel shaper, spoon some of your green filling and then using a flat spoon or knife begin to shave the excess mixture back into the bowl. Once you have a compact shape gently pop it into the oil (turning the oil down if you need to) and we want to leave these to became a nice dark brown colour (roughly 3-5 minutes).
Check your cauliflower to see if you are getting a nice char on one side, then move them around a bit, so they get a even colour and then get back to your falafel.
If you want to shape your falafel in another way, for the second technique grab two standard table spoons and then pressing together shape your falafel so it has two pointed ends (take a look at my notes for the method). Now, let's go back to our cauliflower - I think it is just ready. When the falafel is ready transfer to a colander and then our cauliflower into a deep bowl, then let's season. Drizzle your lemony, fresh dressing and then toss the cauliflower.
Grab or make some white tahini sauce and then pile your cauliflower in the bowl. Chop some fresh parsley and put them over the top. Put the falafel into a nice bowl and serve along side more tahini sauce.
What we have left now is to quickly re-heat the soup, and then spoon it into a deep serving bowl and place alongside our other dishes.
The origins of this fried treat are disputed, thought to have originated in Egypt and made from fava beans, it then made its way across the middle-east and is now often served in pita bread.
We want to chop our vegetables roughly, to make the pieces more manageable for the magimix.
Only remove the really woody stalks, they add loads of flavour but make sure you trim them down to help your food processor.
Take your time with blending the chickpeas, they are still raw and will take some time to breakdown.
With the veggies we are looking for a really fine mixture that will mix completely through our chickpeas and turn our mixture into a green colour.
Our finished texture should be crumbly, gritty but quite fine. We are also looking for a vibrant green colour and a texture that holds it shape.
If you are making your chickpea mixture a day or a few hours in advance, put it in the fridge to settle and firm up.
Kubbeh or Kubbe
A family of dishes known across the middle-east. This family is a broad term for a variety of dumpling soups with many variations of fillings and broths. It's thought to have originated in Iraq and the Kurdish jewish population.
If your dough is too wet, add some more semolina and of course if it's too dry add some more water. This dough needs to be flexible enough to shape into dumplings that surround our meat.
Knead your dough in a similar way to our flatbread last week.
We need to make our filling for the kubbeh fairly homogeneous and even in size so we can easily stuff our dumplings.
Our filling is easy to make, we want to render our fat down, get some really nice colour on the meat and also cook our spices.
When cooking meat various reactions are taking place that are helping us achieve flavour and tenderisation.
The Maillard reaction is a complex reaction responsible for cooked colour and flavour. Taking place at 120°C/248°F and above the reaction between a carbohydrate molecule and an amino acid. An unstable reaction takes place undergoing further changes it creates hundreds of different by products mostly dark colouration and an intense flavour.
This reaction happens when any sugar molecules are present in what we are cooking. Once at 160°C/320°F and above, our meat will begin to colour more darkly as the sugar begins to melt. The many chemical reactions in this complex process create hundreds of different reaction products, such as sour acids, sweet and bitter derivatives, brown colouring and fragrant molecules.
Cooking onions is always the best smell in the kitchen!
Keep checking on our mince.
Why do onions make us cry?
The "lacrimator" (a sulphur chemical in the onion) causes us to cry, this volatile chemical gets released into the air and lands in our eyes and nose when damaged by our knife. This then attacks the nerve endings directly causing our eyes to produce water to try and flush it out. If you are always bothered by this, soak your onions (skin and all) in ice cold water for roughly an hour. This will slow down the reaction of the chemicals that make us cry and also make our onions easier to peel!
Keep stirring your veggies in the pan to stop them burning, we aren't look to add too much colour as we want to keep our broth clear.
Add your water to the pan at the point where you begin to feel the vegetables soften and you can smell the aromas of the spices and garlic.
Our dough should be really elastic and almost slightly sticky, you need to have the confidence with this dough to add more semolina if it's difficult to shape and it's too wet - it is absolutely fine to add semolina more gradually.
Fill a bowl with some water, it's really really handy when shaping our kubbeh.
1. Grab a deep bowl and fill it with water.
2. Get your hands wet and then pinch a ping pong ball sized piece of dough into your hand.
3. Roll your bit of dough into a smooth ball (keeping your hands wet). Once smooth, slightly press it down to flatten it - this will give us a wide surface area to shape our dumpling.
4. Wet the thumb on your dominant hand really well and then with your other hand cupped, use your thumb to press and push the dough into a bowl shape. Wetting your thumb when it gets dry.
5. Once you have a nice cup or bowl add 2/3 tsp of your filling.
6. Once stuffed, bring the edges of your bowl together, like a purse or even a dumpling. Pinch together removing any excess (put any excess back with your dough).
7. Then with wet hands, pat and smooth it into a flat puck like shape, I tend to move/spin it around my hand pressing against my fingers.
These can take a while to get the hang of don't worry, take your time. If your dough breaks, just patch it up with some of your excess mixture.
We use a teaspoon to spoon in our filling so we don't get our hands dirty and discolour our dough.
This soup and the dumplings can be used as a starter or a main. Three dumplings would make a very substantial main course.
Add more lemon juice as you wish and make it as sour as you like. Sometimes back in Israel I would have a wedge of lemon juice on the side of my bowl to add in when I'm eating.
You will notice once the kubbeh has cooked, our broth would have slightly thickened from the starch in our semolina.
I tend not to use black pepper on my cauliflower as I don't like the black dots.
To cut a fine dice, firstly cut your chilli in half and then length ways into a match stick type shape. Gather your match sticks together and then in a rocking motion cut across to create a fine dice.
Im going to show you how to shape falafel in a few different ways. Firstly, with a traditional falafel shaper and flattened spoon, secondly simply with our hands and lastly, in the technique of a quenelle with two spoons.
https://www.joinrassa.com/articles/fry-at-home - read our article for safe frying at home.
Gently move your falafels around the pan with a spoon, colouring them evenly.
Take a spoonful of your chickpea mix, in one spoon and pass the mixture between spoons repeatedly smoothing the surface each time. Repeat the process until you have two points and smooth sides.
Get creative with your plating style here - I love to have individual plates that allows everyone to pick and make their own way around this Israeli feast.