The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine

Falafel sandwich

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Makes 6-8 pittas

South along the coast from Beirut is the ancient Phoenician port of Saida, or Sidon. The city is known for its street food and I ended up scouring the sunsoaked medina and sampling incredible cuisine among the heaving hummus stalls and sizzling shawarma bars. But the dish of the day was at the restaurant Falafel Akkawi Saida, which serves the best falafel sandwich around. They nailed it; the combinatio­n of crispy fried falafel, creamy condiments, crunchy salad and tangy pickles was out of this world.

For the falafel

— 1 onion, roughly chopped — 4 garlic cloves, peeled — a large handful of coriander leaves and stalks — a large handful of parsley leaves — 400g (dry weight) chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water and drained

— 4 tbsp gram flour

— 2 tsp ground cumin

— 2 tsp ground coriander

— 1 tsp Aleppo-pepper flakes

— ½ tsp baking powder

— ¼ tsp bicarbonat­e of soda

— sea salt

— vegetable oil, for deep-frying

To serve

— 6-8 round pitta breads, split

— 2 Baby Gem lettuces, finely

sliced

— 2 handfuls of parsley leaves

— 200g pickles, thinly sliced

— 2 tsp sumac

— tahini, to drizzle

— chilli sauce, to taste Blitz the onion and garlic in a food processer until fine. Add the herbs and continue to blend until they are completely whizzed up. Add the chickpeas, gram flour, ground cumin and coriander, Aleppo-pepper flakes, baking powder and bicarbonat­e of soda. Season with a really good pinch of salt and blitz again for a few minutes to combine. Scrape the sides down with a spatula and blend until the mixture combines into a paste. Roll into 30-32 small falafel the size of walnuts.

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep saucepan over a mediumhigh heat. You will need about 7-10cm oil, enough to completely cover your falafel. Cook the falafel, a few at a time, for 1-2 minutes until golden. You have to watch the heat, adjusting it so that they don’t cook too fast and burn. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve in the pittas with lettuce, parsley, pickles, a sprinkle of sumac, a drizzle of tahini and chilli sauce to taste.

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