With the onset of Lent, many Catholics continue the tradition of meatless fridays. Fish is the usual standby on these days. But there are many other good sources of protein. Apart from dairy, there are beans, peas and lentils, as well as whole grains, nuts and seeds.
While mung beans may remain the go-to legume in many Pinoy households (and yes, ginisang munggo is one of my comfort foods!), there is a wide variety of other beans worth trying. Take for example the chickpea, or garbanzo bean. As a child, I first got to know these little beige, wrinkly, vaguely rounded beans in callos, that Castillan dish of tripe and tomatoes. Later I rediscovered them in hummus, a tangy dip of garbanzos ground to a fine cream and blended with lemon, sesame paste, and lots of garlic. From there it was just a matter of time before I found falafel, another chickpea concoction originating in the middle east. These fried garbanzo fritters are delicious stuffed into pita bread, along with tomatoes, onions, lettuce and maybe roasted sweet peppers, cucumber slices and perhaps an olive or two.
My previous attempts at home made falafel had only middling success. The tricky part is getting the patty mixture just the right consistency that they would hold together when put into the frying fat. Then I discovered this recipe from Mark Bittman’s now defunct column in the New York Times: instant success and delicious results!