This is no ordinary Falafel because it has transformed chess tournaments by connecting a usual mix of people who raise funds for various charities for the last 20 years. It all began when a group of grandmothers came together to mentor youth in the art of fundraising at a local nonprofit organization called Chess Without Borders. This chess educational nonprofit conducts tournaments periodically in local schools. During these daylong tournaments, while some students compete at chess several other youth and adult volunteers serve food to raise funds for charities. One of the mentors is a grandmother who was born in Palestine, she wanted children to experience different foods. Instead of hot dogs and pizza served during tournaments she began cooking Falafel in the cafeteria of the school where the tournaments were held. At first there was a reluctance to try Falafels but within a few months children converted wholeheartedly to eating Falafels. In fact, sales of the hot dogs are now replaced by Falafels at tournaments. This grandmother came to be known affectionately as the “Falafel Lady” in town. The Falafel has sold like hot cakes and helped the program raise over $187,000 in the last 10 years for various local and global charities. A tradition has started during chess tournaments where non-chess players especially visit to eat “homemade Falafels from the Falafel lady” helping raise more funds from Falafel sales. The Falafel has transformed the scene of the chess tournaments and become a star attraction. There are endearing qualities to this meal. It is easy to love because it is healthy, fun and quick to eat. Most of all it has brought a cultural change amongst youth who help to cook, clean, serve and often share knowledge about its origins. “I read that Falafel is common in many places in the middle east” said 16-year-old volunteer Toby Schwartz! There is great joy in working together to discover how quick children are to adapt to new experiences. Food, people and adventure are at the heart of this meal brought home by grandmothers!
• Rinse chickpeas several times and place in a large container. Add enough water to cover chickpeas up to 4 inches. Allow to soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain well.
• In a food processor, place chickpeas then using the pulsing motion, pulse several times while scraping down the sides periodically, until the chickpeas become looking like coarse meal. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.
• Pulse (Herb mixture) - parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, jalapeno. Pulse several times while scraping down the sides periodically, until mixture becomes looking like pesto.
• Add spices (coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne) to herb mixture. Mix evenly
• Add Herb mixture with spices, together with the baking powder and baking soda to chickpeas and mix well until all ingredients are evenly mixed. Do not compact the mixture while mixing
• Divide mixture into approx 30 pieces. Gently patt each into a small patty (a little smaller than a flat golf ball). Keep the patties airy and fluffy. Do not compact. Place in even layer in a flat plate.
• Place oil in a pan that can hold 2 quarts of oil. Heat oil to 325 degrees (medium to high heat). Add half of falafel and fry. Start stirring when the balls begin to rise to the top. Fry until they become golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer falafel, using a wire skimmer, to paper towel–lined flat container. Bring the temp back to 325, and fry the rest of the falafel balls. Serve immediately with tahini sauce.
• 1/2 cup tahini
• 1/2 cup plain yogurt
• 1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons-3 lemons)
• 1/4-1/2 cup water
• Salt to taste
Tahini Sauce Instructions:
• In a bowl, whisk tahini, yogurt, and lemon juice until smooth. Add water to thin sauce as desired. Consistency should be similar to a pancake mixture. Add salt to taste