Kid-friendly Egyptian Farm-tastic Falafel on a Stick + Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Egyptian Farm-tastic Falafel on a Stick + Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce

Recipe: Egyptian Farm-tastic Falafel on a Stick + Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce

Egyptian Farm-tastic Falafel on a Stick + Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Anna Shepulova/Shutterstock.com
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
6 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Egyptian Farm-tastic Falafel on a Stick + Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce

Falafel is popular in Egypt, Israel, the Middle East, and worldwide, including the United States. These deep-fried balls or patties are made from ground chickpeas, fava (broad) beans, or both and are eaten as quick and inexpensive snacks, meze (appetizer), or part of a meal. First made in Egypt, falafel has become a dish eaten throughout the Middle East and is often considered a national dish of Israel. In addition, you can find these hearty fritters around the world as a replacement for meat and as a form of street food. We hope you enjoy our version of Falafel on a Stick, especially with our Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • mash :

    to reduce food, like potatoes or bananas, to a soft, pulpy state by beating or pressure.

  • mince :

    to chop into teeny tiny pieces.

  • peel :

    to remove the skin or rind from something using your hands or a metal tool.

Equipment Checklist

  • Can opener
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Potato masher (or immersion blender)
  • Nonstick skillet
  • Heat-resistant spatula
  • Grater
  • Medium mixing bowl
scale
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Ingredients

Egyptian Farm-tastic Falafel on a Stick + Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce

  • 2 15-oz cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained **(for CHICKPEA ALLERGY sub black or pinto beans, if tolerated)**
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 small lemon
  • 2 green onions
  • 3 to 4 T vegetable oil
  • toothpicks or popsicle sticks
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 handful of fresh mint **(for MINT ALLERGY sub fresh parsley)**
  • 1 C plain yogurt **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free plain yogurt)**
  • 2 tsp tahini **(Omit for SESAME ALLERGY)**
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 ground black pepper, to taste

Food Allergen Substitutions

Egyptian Farm-tastic Falafel on a Stick + Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce

  • Chickpea: Substitute canned black or pinto beans, if tolerated, for canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in Falafel.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour in Falafel.
  • Mint: Substitute fresh parsley for mint in Sauce.
  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free plain yogurt in Sauce.
  • Sesame: Omit Tahini in Sauce.

Instructions

Egyptian Farm-tastic Falafel on a Stick + Cool-as-a-Cucumber Tahini Sauce

1.
peel + measure

Drain 2 cans of garbanzo beans, then have kids 'pop' the skins off of them, discarding the skins. In a large mixing bowl, combine the peeled garbanzo beans with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Next, measure out 2 teaspoons coriander and 2 teaspoons cumin and add to the bowl.

2.
sprinkle + toss

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour over the garbanzo bean mixture. Toss everything in the bowl together and set it to the side.

3.
mince + squeeze + dice

Mince 1 garlic clove finely, along with a handful of fresh parsley, and add to the bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the bowl and dice up 2 green onions. Mix to combine everything well.

4.
mash + roll + flatten

Mash the garbanzo bean mixture using a potato masher or immersion blender, making sure everything gets very well combined, resulting in a thick paste. Roll the mixture into small balls about the size of a ping-pong ball. Slightly flatten the balls.

5.
fry + pierce

Heat a non-stick skillet on your stovetop over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of oil to the bottom of your skillet, and then fry up your falafel for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until crispy and golden brown. Let them cool slightly and pierce them with pretzel sticks toothpicks or popsicle sticks to serve. Enjoy with the Cucumber Tahini sauce!

6.
grate + squeeze

Using a cheese grater, grate 1 cucumber into a medium bowl. Pick up the grated cucumber in clean hands and squeeze out the excess liquid. Discard liquid and put the grated cucumber back into the bowl.

7.
chop + tear + combine

Chop up 1 apple (with the skin on) into small chunks. Then, tear up 1 handful of fresh mint into small bits. Combine the cucumber, apple, and mint in the bowl.

8.
measure + whisk

Measure 1 cup of yogurt and 2 teaspoons of tahini and add to the cucumber mixture. Whisk the cucumber dip until smooth. Add salt and black pepper to taste and serve with the Falafel sticks!

Surprise Ingredient: Cucumber!

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Photo by Taras Grebinets/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I’m Cucumber!

"I'm as cool as a cucumber. Actually, I am a cucumber! I have a thick, dark green peel; I am longer than I am wide; and I am a fruit that's often used as a veggie! There are three types of cucumbers: slicing, pickling, and burpless. The slicing and burpless varieties, with or without their peels, are tasty and refreshing sliced, chopped, or minced in salads, sandwiches, salsa, sauces, appetizers, and smoothies or other drinks. The pickling cucumber eventually becomes a pickle (after its pickling spa treatment)!"

History & Etymology

  • Cucumbers are one of the oldest known cultivated vegetables. They have been grown for at least 3,000 years and are believed to have originated in India. 
  • The early Greeks or Romans may have introduced cucumbers to Europe. Records indicate that the French cultivated them in the 9th century and the English in the 14th century. Then Spanish explorers brought cucumbers to the Americas in the 16th century. 
  • Pickled cucumbers, or pickles, may have been produced first by workers building the Great Wall of China or by people in Mesopotamia's Tigris Valley. 
  • A 1630 book called "New England's Plantation" by Francis Higginson, describing plants grown in a garden on Conant's Island in Boston Harbor, mentions "cowcumbers." The cucumber may have been dubbed cowcumber due to thinking at that time that uncooked vegetables were fit only for cows.
  • The word "cucumber" comes from late Middle English, from the Old French "cocombre," from the Latin "cucumis."

Anatomy

  • The cucumber is a creeping vine plant that is part of the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family. Other members are melon, squash, pumpkin, and watermelon. Cucumbers grow on a vine, often in sandy soil. Sandy soil warms faster in the spring, giving cucumbers a more favorable growing environment. 
  • Cucumber length varies. Slicers are 6 to 8 inches, burpless 8 to 10 inches, and picklers are 3 to 5 inches long. 
  • Cucumbers have a mild melon flavor. Slicing cucumbers will have seeds in their flesh, preferably small, soft seeds. Burpless cucumbers are slightly sweeter with a more tender skin and are easier to digest. They may also have no or very few seeds.
  • "Cool as a cucumber" isn't just a catchy phrase. A cucumber's inner temperature can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air. This is because it consists mainly of water, which also applies to watermelons, and it takes more energy to heat the water inside the cucumber than the air around it. No wonder these are such summertime favorites! However, we don't say "as cool as a watermelon," so how did this expression become part of our vocabulary? It may have come from a poem in John Gay's Poems, New Song on New Similes from 1732. 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Cucumbers are ready to be harvested 50 to 70 days after planting. They are ripe when they are firm and bright or dark green. Slicing cucumbers will be six to eight inches long. Avoid leaving them on the vine too long, or their taste may become bitter and their rind tougher. 
  • At the store, look for firm cucumbers without blemishes, wrinkles, or soft spots. Organic cucumbers are the best choice to avoid pesticide residue, if available. In addition, washing them reduces the amount of residue and pathogens. 
  • If you don't eat your fresh, uncut cucumbers immediately, store them in your refrigerator crisper drawer in a plastic bag for up to three days if unwaxed and up to a week if waxed. 
  • You can eat slicing and burpless cucumbers by themselves, slice or chop them into salads, or blend them into sauces and smoothies. 
  • Pickling cucumbers are pickled whole or sliced in brine, sugar, vinegar, and spices. There are several kinds of pickles, such as sweet, bread-and-butter, gherkin, and kosher dill. 

Nutrition

  • Cucumbers are 96 percent water, have very little fat, and are low in calories. 
  • Cucumbers contain small amounts of the vitamins you need every day and 16 percent of the daily value of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting.

 

History of Falafel!

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich
  • In Egypt, where they originated, fritter-like falafel balls or patties are made with fava beans. When falafel made their way to the Eastern Mediterranean, Levant region, people began making them using chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Falafel may have arrived in Israel from Yemen and became popular in Israel in the 1950s. Before the 1970s, falafel was found mainly in Middle Eastern or Jewish neighborhoods in North America, eventually becoming more widespread.
  • Falafel are often topped with tahini sauce. Tahini consists of ground sesame seeds, and you can make a sauce from it by adding lemon juice, salt, and some water to thin it. Falafel may be eaten alone or wrapped in a pita or flatbread. Falafel can also refer to the wrapped falafel sandwich itself. In addition to the falafel balls and tahini sauce, a wrap may include cucumber, tomato, onion, other fresh or pickled veggies, herbs, greens, and hummus.

Let's Learn About Egypt

Photo by Murat Sahin

Ancient Egypt

  • Ancient Egypt dates back to around 3150 BCE.
  • Both Egyptian men and women wore makeup. If their eye paint was green, it was made from copper, and if it was black, it was made from lead. Egyptians thought makeup could magically provide healing! 
  • Egyptians believed in preparing for the afterlife, and by preserving the dead person's body through mummification, their soul would live forever. If you were to unwrap a mummy's bandages in a straight line, they would be as long as a mile! 
  • More than 700 hieroglyphs made up the Egyptian alphabet! 
  • Ancient Egyptians had over 2,000 gods! Each deity had different responsibilities and required worship so that life could be kept in balance. 
  • Cats were sacred, and Egyptians believed having a cat in their household would bring good luck!  
  • Love playing board games with your pals? So did the Ancient Egyptians! One popular game, 'Senet,' was played in Egypt for over 2,000 years! To play, they would throw sticks, like we throw dice, to move their game piece on the board.
  • The Ancient Egyptians invented many things we still use today, such as paper, pens, locks with keys, and, believe it or not, toothpaste! 

Modern Egypt

  • The country of Egypt is officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt. Arabic is the official language, but additional languages, such as English and French, are also understood by many.
  • The population of Egypt is over 102.6 million, and its total area is 390,121 square miles.
  • Cairo is the capital city and also has the largest population. Other major cities include Alexandria and Giza.
  • On the borders of Egypt are the Gaza Strip, Israel, Libya, Sudan, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Red Sea.
  • The Sinai Peninsula in Egypt spans both the African and Asian continents.
  • Egypt is an arid country. The Sahara and the Libyan Desert make up most of Egypt's area.
  • Egypt experiences many types of natural hazards, including droughts, earthquakes, flash floods, landslides, windstorms, dust storms, and sandstorms.
  • Egypt's Nile River is the longest in Africa and possibly the world, although the Amazon may be slightly longer.
  • The Great Pyramid of Giza, built in the 26th century BCE, is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is still in reasonably good shape, considering it is about 4,600 years old!
  • Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Egypt. Other popular sports include tennis and squash (like racquetball).
  • Egyptians primarily eat legumes and vegetables, although those who live on the coast may include seafood in their diet. When people eat meat, they often grill lamb and beef and boil chicken, duck, and squab (young pigeon) to add to soups and stews. Bread and cheese are staple foods, and pita bread is a common local favorite. Baklava and basbousa are two favorite syrup-soaked desserts. Baklava is a layered phyllo dough and nut pastry, and basbousa is a semolina cake.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Egypt?

  • School is free for kids from 6 to 15 years old. In addition to subjects like reading and writing, kids may also have a religious education, with Muslim and Christian students learning separately. 
  • Kids may participate in soccer, tennis, squash (like handball), and wrestling.  
  • The Sham Ennessim (or Sham al-Nassim) festival is a national holiday that celebrates the beginning of Spring and is held on Easter Monday. Families spend the whole day outside picnicking and visiting public gardens, zoos, and other places.
  • Kids may eat a popular food for breakfast or dinner called "ful medames," a stew with fava beans, also considered a national dish. "Koshari," another national dish, is a main course made with pasta, rice, lentils, and a spicy tomato sauce, topped with fried onions. For snacks, kids may eat almonds, pistachios, grapes, raisins, dates, cucumbers, pita, and cheese. Sweet treats include "Oumm Ali" (mother of Ali), a national dessert of Egypt similar to a rice pudding, consisting of bread or pastry (often phyllo) mixed with coconut, cinnamon, pistachios, and raisins with milk poured over and baked.

Lettuce Joke Around

What is a mother hen’s favorite plant in the garden? 

The Chickpea!

Lettuce Joke Around

Why did the rooster blush? 

Because it saw a chickpea!

The Yolk's On You

What’s green and very noisy? 

A cucumber playing a drum!

That's Berry Funny

"I didn't mean to break your toy. I falafel." (I feel awful)

THYME for a Laugh

"Knock, knock!"

"Who’s there?"

"Falafel!"

"Falafel who?"

"I falafel my bike and cut my knee! Help!"

That's Berry Funny

Why was the cucumber mad? 

Because it was in a pickle!

Lettuce Joke Around

"Doctor, doctor, I’ve got carrots growing out of my ears! How did that happen?"

"I don’t know, I planted cucumbers there!"

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