Whenever I go to a new city I make a point of trying the local street food. There really isn’t a better way to experience local fare than to walk up to a roadside food vendor and try what all the locals are eating. Every city has it’s specialty; In New York it’s Pizza, Chicago has hot dogs, Dallas loves their Tacos and Montreal is a bagel haven. In my hometown of Ottawa, Shawarma and Falafel is our claim to street food fame.
You cannot go a block without seeing a Lebanese restaurant and the smell of slow roasted chicken and garlic fills the downtown air. If you find yourself in the Byward Market after last call, you will see hoards of drunk people lining up for their late night Shawarma or Falafel fix. Ottawa men will even choose Shawarma over their ladies and opt for garlic sauce over a warm bed to sleep in.
It’s been almost six months since my mouth has experienced the magical wonders of late night Lebanese, so I took matters into my own hands. Being from Ottawa has made me a bit of a snob when it comes to Shawarma and Falafel so I knew going to a Dallas restaurant would only make me miss Ottawa’s street food more. I dusted off the food processor and ventured into my own late night fix. In no way could it ever compete with Ottawa locales such as Maroush or Aladins but it far surpassed anything I have tried in Texas. What is your city’s street food?
1 16oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
½ yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tsp. ground coriander
2 Tbsp. cooked bulgar wheat
2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
Lemon Tahini sauce
¼ cup tahini
juice from two lemons
½ Tsp. paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tomato, diced
½ red onion, finely sliced
½ cucumber, halved and sliced
1 cup green leaf or romaine lettuce, shredded
¼ cup tzatziki (optional)
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
½ cup tabouleh
In a food processor combine all ingredients and pulse until smooth. Place in a sealable container and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil, set aside.
Scoop two tablespoons of mixture and roll with your hands to create a ball. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat for all the mixture. Makes about 12 equally sized falafel balls.
Brush falafel with olive oil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. You can opt to broil them for an additional 2 minutes to brown the tops.
In the meantime combine all ingredients for the lemon tahini sauce in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth; set aside.
To assemble spread tzatziki over four warmed pita’s. Top with three falafel ball, diced tomato, red onion, cucumber and lettuce. Drizzle with lemon tahini sauce and sprinkle with feta cheese and tabouleh. Fold the pita and secure with tin foil. Serve warm.