Chewy falafel burgers

June 14, 2008 at 5:53 pm (Beans, C (2 stars, okay, edible), My brain, Quick weeknight recipe)

I had mixed feelings about the chickpea burgers I tried a while back, but I really liked the idea of using gluten flour in a veggie or bean burger to add a chewy texture. This is my attempt to create a burger recipe that’s a little less bland boca and a little more vibrant veggie.  It’s basically a combination of Isa’s chickpea cutlet recipe and the cook’s illustrated falafel recipe.

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1.75 cups cooked chickpeas, from one can
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3/4 cup matzoh meal
  • 3 scallions, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • olive oil for pan frying
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, briefly process the garlic.  Add the chickpeas, soy sauce, parsley, salt cilantro, cumin, cinnamon, and olive oil, and pulse a few times, until the mixture is thick and chunky, but there are no whole chickpeas remaining.  The mixture should be substantially thicker and lumpier than hummus.
  2. Move the chickpea mixture to a mixing bowl, and add the matzoh meal, wheat gluten, scallions, and liquid.  Mix with your hands until all the meal and gluten are incorporated. Knead the mixture for about 3 minutes, until strings of gluten have formed.
  3. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, divide the  dough into 8 equal pieces, and form a thin patty out of each piece, the thinner the better.
  4. Add a moderately thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Place the cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for 6 to 7 minutes. Add more oil, if needed, when you flip the cutlets. They’re ready when lightly browned and firm to the touch.

My Notes:

Unfortunately, my experiment was not a success, with regards to either texture or flavor.  When I shaped the patties the texture felt right–not as springy as last time, but they definitely held together well.   They browned up nicely in my cast iron skillet, but the inside was soft and doughy, almost unchanged from the raw dough.  I think making the patties thinner would help with this. I also would bump the gluten up to 3/4 cup.  After the patties cooled off the inner texture firmed up, and they seemed more cooked and cohesive.  They weren’t bad dipped in ketchup.

Despite my efforts, these patties were very bland!  The only seasoning I really could taste was the cinnamon, which Cook’s Illustrated calls for but I don’t recall having a presence in normal falafel. The number one problem: I clearly did not add enough salt.  I think the recipe needs another 1/2 tsp. or more of salt.  I couldn’t really taste the cumin, cilantro, or parsley, although I could definitely see the bright green herbs.  Maybe more salt would have brought out these flavors, but certainly the patties tasted nothing like falafel.  I can try again, doubling all the seasonings, but I’m not sure that will turn these from bland burgers to falafel taste-alikes. Another problem was that the patties were missing any hint of hot, which I somehow didn’t notice when putting together the recipe.  I went back and checked the Cook’s Illustrated falafel recipe and it calls for black pepper, but I think I’d prefer something with even more zing, maybe jalepeno or cayenne.

Rating: B-


  1. Tofu Mom said,

    Wow, reading the recipe at first, I thought these burgers sounded terriffic! Now you’ve intrigued me and I’m gonna have to experiment myself a little….

  2. captious said,

    If you have more success, please let me know Tofu Mom! I really want to figure out how to make a yummy falafel burger 🙂

  3. Brad Legare said,

    I have found that ground spices of any kind lead to bland recipes. I would consider using cumin seeds and substituting the cinnamon for coriander seeds. If you heat them lightly in a pan then hand grind them with a mortar and pestle the flavours will be much more prominent. Furthermore, I would spice the broth you add. I entered a falafel burger into a competition a few years ago and increased the flavour exponentially but spicing the broth. I added bay leaf for depth, turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, paprika, cayenne and dried fenugreek leaves. I would also add some lemon juice and zest for some acidity and brightness. If you decide to try these please update me with the results! Love the idea of the gluten flour by the way!

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