Baba's Falafel reinvents a well-known dish on its new truck menu
The Caprese Falafeldilla at Baba's.
Baba's Falafel has expanded its already innovative menu with new takes on fried chickpeas -- including Tex Mex-style nachos and an Italian-influenced inspired dish that will certainly surprise you, and just may change the way you look at the ubiquitous falafel.
Baba's Falafel opened for business in October 2012, and has been traveling the streets of metro Denver ever since. Owned and operated by Dalia Hannah and Chris Hernandez, Baba's has been serving some of the best falafel balls around, all based on a recipe passed down by Hannah's father. (Baba means "father" in Arabic.) The Middle Eastern delicacy -- deep-fried patties of ground-up chickpeas, parsley, cilantro and other spices -- has been seeing a revival in the food world recently -- and Hannah says she was inspired to start the truck when she realized there weren't a lot of decent options out there in the Mile High City.
The truck's most popular item today is the straightforward falafel cone: a hand-friendly pita cone filled with falafel balls with lettuce, tomato, pickles and hummus. But the new, out-of-the-box variations really show off Baba's passion for innovation. Hannah says this cutting-edge approach is based on the owners' backgrounds in web and graphic design.
"We take our creativeness from that and put it into food," Hannah notes. "So I guess you could say we have no boundaries when it comes to food."
This mentality shines through in dishes such as falafel-stuffed spring rolls or the signature falafeldilla: falafel and hummus enclosed in two pitas and grilled until warm and gooey in a quesadilla-maker. Although it took some time, Hannah says she was able to push some falafel-cone regulars to this invention.
New Texas Nachos with crushed falafel, pico de gallo and fresh avocado.
Baba's has three new lunch options.
There's the caprese falafeldilla -- tomato and basil mixed into the falafel itself and then packed between two pitas with aioli and mozzarella, grilled until melted and topped with truffle oil, sharp balsamic and fresh tomatoes. This is the real star of the new menu; the creamy and almost sweet combination of the melted aioli and mozzarella provides the perfect, yet unexpected, background to the pronounced falafel spices.
Carnivores looking for something more substantial can opt for the Double Dilla a classic falafeldilla doubled up with a layer of chicken or lamb kebab meat sandwiched on top. Lamb is the smarter option here: The strong, bright flavors already in the falafel and tahini may overwhelm chicken.
You can also go for the Texas nachos, a new take on the popular spicy nachos, with freshly fried pita chips topped with crushed falafel, homemade pico de gallo, fresh avocado and Baba's spicy tahini sauce. Baba's is often parked outside a brewery -- the truck is at Great Divide every Thursday -- and that dish goes particularly well with beer.
If you're still hungry after all of that, Baba's is also offering fried banana bites, wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and served with a side of Nutella. Simple, yet ingenious.
Although anything deep-fried is bound to be good, Hannah says, she draws from her design background to test the new items. "What we basically did was test run them for like a week on our friends," Hannah says. "I guess you could say it's a prototype... you would never just build a website right away, you have to prototype it first and make sure everything is running smoothly."
One item didn't quite make it past the prototype process: falafel dumplings. The problem wasn't taste; Hannah says it simply took too long to make them, and everything at Baba's is done to order. But Hannah will keep experimenting; she's currently trying spinach and edamame variations on the traditional falafel.
"We are just always interested in change and just starting, trying new things," she says. "We want to bring our innovation into the falafel."
You can find Baba's at Civic Center Park on Tuesday at lunch and Great Divide Brewing on Thursday. The truck also usually hits the South Pearl Street Farmers' Market on Sundays. To see where else it might pull up, follow Baba's on Facebook or Twitter.
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