The reason this recipe seems similar to falafel is that the latter and better-known dish is a direct descendent of this Egyptian fritter. Tamiya’s roots stretch back to ancient Egypt. Over the centuries, it was lightened in texture, the spices varied, and milder-flavored chickpeas frequently substituted for part or all of the beans. Beginning in the 1950s, Yemenite immigrants in Israel took up falafel making to earn a livelihood, utilizing the chickpea version common in the Levant, and transformed this ancient treat into the Israeli national food. These fritters were commonly stuffed into a pita with salad and accompanied with tahina and the nontraditional z’chug (chili sauce). Iraqi Jews offered a different strategy by enwrapping the falafel in their lavash-like bread, but the pita version remained the more popular. Today, these spicy croquettes, the Middle Eastern equivalent of fast food, are peddled by street vendors and kiosks throughout the area. Professional tamiya and falafel makers use a special scooping device with a plunger to mold the 1-inch balls, but they are also easily formed by hand.
Recipe yields about 40 balls.
Soak the beans in water to cover overnight. Drain.
If skinless beans are unavailable, rub to loosen the skins, then discard the skins. Pat the beans dry with a towel.
Grind the beans in a food mill or meat grinder. If neither appliance is available, process them in a food processor but only until the beans form a paste. (If blended too smoothly, the batter tends to fall apart during cooking.)
Add the scallions, garlic, cilantro, cumin, baking powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, and coriander, if using. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Shape the bean mixture into one-inch balls. Flatten slightly and coat with flour.
Heat at least one and a half inches of oil over medium heat to 365 degrees.
Fry the patties in batches, turning once, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.Remove with a wire mesh skimmer or slotted spoon.
Serve as part of a meze or in pita bread with tomato-cucumber salad and tahina sauce.
Falafel: Substitute 1 pound soaked chickpeas for the fava beans and, if desired, add 1 large egg.