Goat Masala Falafel

GOAT: One of the many benefits of shopping at the farmers market almost every week is that you get inspired to try new things.  Hence the goat in this recipe.  Early one dreary Saturday morning I noticed a new vendor, a lovely woman in a colorful woolen sweater.  Lynda raises Boer goats at Toboton Creek Ranch and sells the very tasty meat at markets and via phone/email (www.tobotoncreekenterprises.com).  For those of you who are thinking as I did, that goat must taste like gamey lamb, Lynda promised the flavor would be more mild than lamb, and she was right!  It is almost more like beef.  I had been craving falafel, so was inspired to fry up the ground goat into falafel like patties.

MASALA:  Perusing the World Spice Market just west of Pike Place Market is one of my favorite activities.  So many little jars of spices to open & smell!  Its like an interactive spice museum.  I was intrigued one day by the different masala spice blends, each one with a distinctive scent.  Masala is a spice mixture from India, and there are probably as many different blends of masala as there are regions in India.  Garam masala is the most common, but there is a world of masala out there to explore.  These are not spicy-hot, they are complex blends of savory/sweet and can be used in meat dishes, sauces and even baked goods.  Buy masala whole so it will stay flavorful longer, and grind it as you need it using a mortar & pestle or spice/coffee grinder.

FALAFEL:  A middle eastern fried chickpea ball, usually served in pita with condiments such as tahini (sesame) sauce and fresh vegetables.  My falafel is made from goats instead of chickpeas, I’m a strange girl, I just can’t help myself.

Goat Masala Falafel – Makes about 4 Servings

*Indicates ingredients that are locally grown or produced

*1 lb. Ground goat (you could also use beef or lamb)

*3/4 Cup whole wheat bread crumbs (use cooked rice or omit for wheat sensitive)

*2 Eggs

*2 Tb. Chopped fresh mint

1-1/2 Tb. Sambal Masala

Zest from 1 lemon

1 tsp. Lemon juice

*4 Garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1 tsp. Kosher or sea salt

Olive oil for pan frying

*1 Cucumber – diced (local in summer)

*1/4 Red onion – diced

1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt

4 Whole Wheat Naan or Pita breads

*4-8 Large lettuce leaves (local in spring-summer-fall)

Gently Combine ground goat with bread crumbs, eggs, mint, lemon zest & juice, masala, garlic and salt.  Mix with your hands just until all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Form the mixture into 16 oblong patties about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.  Heat a large frying pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then fry the goat falafel in batches,  2-3 minutes per side.  Drain on a paper-towel lined plate & tent with foil to keep warm.

In a medium bowl, combine the diced cucumber, red onion & salt (in the summer you could add some ripe red tomato).  Mix to combine.  Toast the naan or pita bread if you like.  Line each bread with a lettuce leaf and serve the goat falafel on top, with cucumber salad and walnut mint sauce (recipe follows).

Walnut Mint Sauce

*1 Cup whole milk yogurt (cow or goat!)

1/2 Cup toasted walnut halves

*1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

*1/2 Cucumber, peeled & roughly chopped (local in summer)

*2 Sprigs mint, leaves roughly chopped

1 tsp. Piment Esplette (or other red pepper such as cayenne to taste)

1 tsp. Kosher or sea salt

2 Tb. Walnut oil or olive oil

1 tsp. Brown rice vinegar

1 tsp. Agave nectar or honey

*1/2 Cup whole wheat bread crumbs (optional for texture)

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender & blend until a smooth sauce is formed.  Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  This sauce tastes just like spring to me, and is also perfect as a dip for veggies.