Spicy Falafel Gyros, Greek Style, crispy, soft, spicy, rich in flavor. This would describe the experience of these morsels of Mediterranean goodness. This month’s featured country is Greece, part of “Around the World in 12 Plates”.
Song of the day: “Live at the Acropolis” by Yanni.
Spicy Falafel Gyros, Greek Style, is a palate awakening experince leaving you with delightful tinglings of spice and flavor that will linger with you after the fact and have you craving it time and again.
This month in around the world in 12 plates takes us to Greece. I had so many ideas for recipes in my mind. Souvlaki, either chicken, lamb or beef with a side of hummus. Those lemon, oregano olive oil roasted potatoes. How about a nice moussaka, layers of Greek goodness and rich tomato sauce. Then out of the corner of my mind, and Nicoletta’s love for falafel, I heard the faint cry “gyro”, and it became louder “GYROS”! I got it, why don’t we make gyros, lol. Nicoletta was in agreement and so the wheels were in motion. There are so many deviations and creations in the gyro world, stemming from different cultural areas but we wanted to keep it Greek and reseached it and came up with our rendition and take on Falafel that we call:
Spicy Falafel Gyros, Greek Style. OPA!
Initially we wanted to use a fava bean to make the falafel, but decided to keep it real and use chickpeas. The spice comes from the combo cumin and chili powder, and mixing a bit of yellow onion, and sesame oil, gives this spicy falafel texture and a nice nutty flavor, combined with that sweet onion taste. To bind it a bit more and to ensure that crispy exterior, I used some flour. Let’s not forget the fresh parsley, after all we are talking Greek food here. For the garnishing aspect, Nicoletta and I decided on some beautifully sauteed purple onion and purple cabbage. I love the flavor that happens when the purple cabbage is sauteed. It becomes sweet and slightly acidic, as it is a cabbage, but the caramelized onion keep that on the down low, and in perfect balance both flavor and texture wise. For a bit of freshness, a nice ripe tomato and some organic mixed greens. This will cool the heat a bit.
You can’t have a gyro without some kind of creamy sauce, whether tzatziki, or a sweet sauce. We concocted a nice creamy sauce using ingredients that representss the Greek cultural food experience. So that being said gives us an organic Greek yogurt as a base, I want some of that familiar nuttiness and bitterness so tahini is in order. Minced garlic which is a no brainer, and for spices cumin, and some paprika, white pepper, white balsamic vinegar, and sumac. Sumac? you say. Well it is a flowering plant found in sub tropical and temperate regions of the world. The plant flowers in a peppercorn cluster fashion and those are picked and dried, then ground and used for spice. Its flavor is citrusy and tart, reminiscent of vinegar or lemon. It is essential in Middle Eastern, and Greek cuisine. Nicoletta purchased it at The Silk Road Spice Merchant, located in the old historic area of Strathcona, Edmonton. If spices are your thing, then this will be a great playground for you. I love going in there, the aromas are just so eye opening and amazing, and the endless possibilities of recipe ideas both savory and sweet will flow with utter limitlessness. (We were not sponsored by Silk Road Spice Merchant, we just love them).
While doing a collaboration with a fellow food blogger, we came upon a lovely creamy rich feta. We were sold at first taste and wasted no time in going and purchasing it from the Italian store. It is called Doric, and I have to tell you it is no word of a lie delicious. This would be just what we need to finish this Spicy Falafel Gyro, Greek Style, and we all know how much feta is a part of Greek food culture.
Putting this baby together is shear joy. A nice slathering of the yogurt tahini sauce. Let’s get some freshness in with those organic greens. Some of those so delicate and crispy spicy falafel. Layer in the sauteed cabbage and onion. Nestled in on the sides of the falafel some beautiful juicy tomatoes. Let’s not be stingy with the sauce, on goes a nice dollop and we close this gyro wrapping it up in a sandwich paper befitting the challenge. One thing I should mention is: have lots of napkins. This is not an etiquette friendly experience, it is all about passion and messy goodness.
The first bite in and the toasted edges and warmth of the pita invite us into this Greek delight. The second coming happens as your teeth break open the falafel and that golden crunch awakens our senses as the spice of cumin and chili powder filters through in the soft creamy slightly textured interior. The purple cabbage with reduced balsamic, dances brilliantly like a slow waltz with its richness and subtleties, along with that sauce its sophistication and complexity, coming at you with full force, dancing Greek style on your tongue. Thank God for the mixed greens and those tomatoes, they keep you balanced and alive, in between the hits of spices and delightful textures. All in all, this Spicy Falafel Gyro, Greek Style, reminds us of the passion of the Greek culture, and how food is the spice of life.
Song of the day: “Live at the Acropolis” by Yanni.
- 1 cup canned chickpeas
- 1/2 yellow onion chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Pinch of chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Dash of crushed sea salt
- Dash of white pepper
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup canola oil for frying
- 1/3 cup organic greek yogurt
- 1/8 cup tahini
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup of red cabbage
- 1/2 yellow onion chopped
- 1 tsp dill
- 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 1/2 hothouse tomatoe cut in wedges
- 1 1/2 cups mixed greens salad
- 1/4 cup purple onion
- 1/4 cup crumbled creamy feta
- In a food processor toss in chickpeas, onions, parsley, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, sesame oil.
- Pulse food processor till mixture becomes smooth.
- Add in flour and pulse some more.
- Wet your hands, and scoop 1 tablespoon of the mixture into your hand and form a nice plump patty.
- Continue this until all your falafel are formed.
- In a medium saute pan, pour in oil.
- Heat to medium to high heat and place falafel in pan.
- Cook about 2 minutes a side.
- With a spatula place fried falafel on a dish with paper towel.
- Take the falafel from the plate and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Put falafel in a pre heated 350° F oven.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- While falafel are baking, place yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, 1/2 tsp sumac, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, in a small bowl.
- Whisk ingredients until well incorporated and finish with a dusting of the left over sumac. Set aside.
- In a medium saute pan heat olive oil.
- Toss in chopped onion.
- Sautee till onion softens, about 2 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss in red cabbage and sautee for 10 minutes, adding in dill, and balsamic vinegar.
- Take off heat and set aside.
- Take a pita round and scoop a good spoonful of the gyro sauce.
- Spread it in the middle of the pita.
- Take some of the sauteed red cabbage, and spread on top of sauce.
- Place some salad greens along the sides of the cabbage.
- Take three falafel and place down center of pita.
- Add in some purple onion and tomato.
- Drop a few dollops of gyro sauce on falafel.
- Close and wrap up bottom.
- Ready to eat.
Make sure you check out the other amazing recipes from fellow bloggers participating in this exciting challenge that is “Around the World in 12 Plates”:
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