Sitting on his throne, the mighty and proud Pharaoh was lost in deep thought. Seven disasters, one more severe than the other, have plagued his country. Egypt was devastated.
No livestock and no crops left, the starving population is about to rebel, and here are these two guys, Moses and Aaron, threatening with yet another catastrophe – locusts! The Pharaoh’s advisers are whispering into his ears, “Your Divine Majesty Ramses, how much longer are you planning to sit here like Rodin’s Thinker? When are you going to stop swinging like a weather-wane between yes and no? Don’t you see your country is going to a very hot place in a hand basket? Granted, it’s always pretty hot in Egypt, and your people are expert basket weavers, but they’ve got to eat, too! Let these stiff-necked people go already!”
“Oh, okay, ” says Yul Brynner – pardon me, Ramses II, – “call these two characters back, and I’ll tell them they may go and pray to their … whatever they pray to… But wait, who and who is going?”
“What do you mean, who and who? Everybody! – says Moshe, having been brought back to the palace, – With our children and our elders, with our sons and our daughters, and with all our livestock we will go to celebrate and serve our G-d!”
“Hold it! Are you telling me Falafel Frida is also going? No way! You men can go and serve whatever, but women and children stay! I can’t even function without my falafel for lunch! Everybody makes those deep fried fava bean balls that give me indigestion, but Frida’s falafels are made of chickpeas and baked. My country needs Falafel Frida!”
And so the Pharaoh’s falafel addiction caused the next plague, locusts, and one more, darkness that covered the entire country.
“Go already, start packing! – screamed Ramses at Moses, hastily summoned to the palace, – Take your women, take your children, just leave your livestock. What do you need it for, anyway?”
“We might have to bring sacrifices but until we actually get there, we won’t know the order of service, so it’s best to be prepared.”
Sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation, but when the A-mighty wants to punish someone, He removes his reason, or so the saying goes. G-d hardened the Pharaoh’s heart, and he changed his mind again, thus causing the last and the most terrible plague – death of the firstborn. Grieving for his son and heir, Ramses was ready to give up, when he remembered Frida. Everyone will get their freedom, but not Falafel Frida! As all the Jews were busy roasting lambs, eating flat bread that hadn’t had time to leaven (rise), and packing their belongings, Frida was abducted and brought in front of the Pharaoh.
“Ask what you want, – offered the king, – lands, palaces, slaves, a brand new Tesla and an off-shore bank account, but stay, I beg you!”
“I choose freedom, – replied Frida, – but I don’t mind sharing a recipe if I can go right this minute, otherwise my husband will make a mess of packing my pots and pans.”
I guess this part of the Exodus story was lost due to its insignificance, but whether there really was Falafel Frida or not, two facts are indisputable: the Jews chose freedom, and the Egyptians started making chickpea falafels. There are many different variations, but mine is basic, just like the mythical Frida’s: add olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper, and lots of garlic and cilantro.
Pulse it all together in a food processor, making sure to scrape the sides once in a while, but don’t blitz it into a paste. Falafels are best when they are a little chunky.
Just like Frida, I bake falafels instead of frying. My motto: “We try not to fry!” Just get the balls rolling, or get your kids to do that – kids love it! – and bake them for about 15 minutes on each side on a lightly misted cookie sheet. While they are baking, you can watch this totally unique rendition of the “Four Questions” asked at a Passover table.
Was that fun or what? If you are curious, here is the translation.
The Four Questions
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 cup dry)
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Mist cookie sheet with oil.
- Drain chickpeas, place in food processor, add the rest of ingredients. Pulse until chunky, not creamy, occasionally scraping down the sides. Add more olive oil, if necessary.
- Roll mixture into balls, place them on cookie sheet, mist with oil on top. Bake 10 to 15 minutes on each side or until golden.