Cotija Falafel with Jalapeño Tahini Crema

    2 Hrs + overnight
    25 Mins
    Serves 40-42
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Cotija Falafel with Jalapeño Tahini Crema

One of the best experience in life is traveling around the world exploring diverse cultures and cuisines. When I get to a new location, rather than immediately search for a restaurant, I’ll hit the streets and walk. Once you start mixing and mingling with the local people, you get a better sense of the local flavor. The aromas of food deep frying or on display by street vendors will eventually waft your way and that’s when you discover some of the best food. In Mexico, you’ll find corn in a cup called esquites or tacos de la calle (street tacos). In Colombia, you’ll find pork or cheese filled arepas (corn meal cakes).

The same thing happens here in the United States. The last time I visited New York City I stumbled upon many street food vendors selling hot dogs, pretzels, beef and chicken kebobs, and falafel. My exploration would typically happen late at night after a few drinks with friends. Like a Weeble Wobble, I would approach a street vendor and peer over the cart looking for something new and yummy.

As a food blogger and writer, I look for inspiration from the streets of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami. We are seeing a blend of cultures with the onslaught of food trucks and chefs opening up quick pop-ups. From Korean Koji Beef Tacos to Mexican Sushi Rolls, cooks and chefs are playing more and more with the idea of America being a true melting pot when it comes to our food.

In this dish, we’ve taken the popular street food Falafel and added salty Cacique Cotija Cheese to the mixture. We thought about making a hummus to spread on the pita, but decided to take a nod from a traditional plain yogurt sauce like Tzatziki or Raita from Indian cuisine, and created a spicy cream sauce made with tahini, cilantro and roasted jalapeños but with rich Cacique Crema Mexicana.

Not too familiar with Falafels? They are simply chickpeas that are ground up with fresh herbs, garlic and seasonings. The thick “batter” is easy to handle, but sometimes you just need to fiddle with it by adding more chickpeas if it is too soft, or more lemon juice if it is too firm. A quick dip in hot oil will turn it a dark brown, that is in stark contrast to the soft green interior. But all good things take time. Just like with tamales, your first falafel will not be pretty, and that’s okay, just smother it in more jalapeño tahini crema.