Falafel & Lavash

If you’re at all like me, then you’re the type of person that eats the same thing over and over until you’re so sick of it you hope that you never see it again. Right now, falafel is my main squeeze, and we’re far from over. Because it’s been at least a day since I’ve been to the little Mediterranean restaurant down the street ordering a falafel sandwich, it needed to be on my plate for dinner.

The Sun Bucket started at 325 C (624 °F).

Falafel is best made from scratch (what isn’t?), but it was one of those nights where time was short, and there just happened to be a box of dried falafel mix in my pantry. Rehydrated with about a cup of water, I had a big bowl of spicy ground chickpeas ready to be formed into 1-inch balls. While I scooped and rolled the falafel, I set my large pan on top of the Sun Bucket with a half-inch of oil (about 12 ounces) in it to heat.

When the oil had reached a temperature of 375 °F, I gently dropped the falafel into the pan to fry. The falafel cooked for 2-3 minutes on each side to become deep golden brown with a crunchy exterior. The falafel was removed from the pan after 6 minutes and set to drain on paper towels.

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The kids aren’t on board with my falafel obsession, so since the oil was still hot, a pound of chicken tenders, lightly dusted in flour, were tossed in. While those sizzled away, I pulled out the lavash dough that I had made an hour earlier. Lavash is a thin bread that’s Armenian in its origins but is eaten throughout the Caucasus, and around the Caspian Sea, most popular in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Iran. Traditionally, lavash is made in a tanoor, a massive clay pot, similar to the Indian tandoor, that’s heated to high temps with charcoal or wood. I don’t have a tanoor, but I do have a blazing hot Sun Bucket and after a little web surfing, found recipes for lavash for the tanoor-less.

This particular recipe called for a little leavening though most lavash recipes do not use it.  2 C of flour, 1 t. dry yeast, 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. sugar were mixed together in a bowl. A half cup of water was poured into a well in the center of the dry ingredients and given a quick stir. Slightly more than a half cup of additional water was slowly added until the dough just came together, and was tacky to the touch. I put a towel over the bowl and let it sit in a warm place for about an hour. When it had doubled in size, the dough needed to be punched down and then left to rest for another 10 minutes.

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While the chicken tenders were cooking, I pinched off egg-sized rounds of the dough and rolled them out to a thickness of about 2 mm on my floured surface. When the chicken was flipped and cooked through, the pan of oil was removed from the Sun Bucket and a sheet of aluminum foil laid down to cook the lavash the way I cook all flatbreads. I sprayed the foil with a little nonstick cooking spray and gently transported the thin, delicate dough from the counter to the Sun Bucket. It took just a few seconds on each side to bubble up and brown.

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While the lavash was still warm, we filled it with falafel (or chicken), cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions. We topped it all off with some tzatziki sauce made with 1 C. of Greek yogurt, 1/2 English cucumber, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 T. fresh lemon juice, 1 T. fresh, chopped dill, 1 t. salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Mixing everything besides the cucumber and dill as far in advance as possible tempers the garlic’s bite. Right before serving, mix in the cucumber and dill, and drizzle with olive oil.

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The Sun Bucket was used for 47 minutes tonight and cooked 1.5 kg of food with an approximate caloric content of 2300 calories. These totals do not include the additional calories from frying the falafel and chicken in oil, nor the tzatziki sauce.

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The best part about this dinner is that leftovers guarantee falafel for tomorrow.

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