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Yemenite green hot sauce powers ‘green wings’ at Falafel Bar

When Oded Rauvenpoor moved his Falafel Bar restaurant to its new digs in the Northtown Plaza (3047 Sheridan Drive, Amherst) in 2012, he figured the menu needed something new.

He reached into his array of Israeli, Lebanese, Greek and other Mediterranean dishes for a green Yemenite-style hot sauce that had never gotten prominent play on the official menu, even though he had made it available as a by-request heat booster for years. It’s a pungent fresh salsa that lights up the palate with a twin punch of garlic and green chile.

Why not use it to put a unique spin on the ubiquitous chicken wing? Thus the “green wings” were born. At $9 for 10, it’s now one of the most popular appetizers on the menu. “We wanted to give the kids wings, because we have a bar, but we didn’t want to do just the regular wings,” Rauvenpoor said, adding they’ve proved particularly popular with Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian customers.

The secret’s in the sauce, of course.

“You can use any kind of spicy hot green pepper,” said Rauvenpoor, who ran the Greek in Depew before opening Falafel Bar on Elmwood Avenue, and later in Amherst. “We use jalapeños because they’re the most consistent.”

The chiles are stemmed, then ground up – seeds and all – with garlic, cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of cumin, Rauvenpoor said. If you ask for green sauce, you can get some on the side with falafel or other dishes.

To make green wings, green sauce is cooked briefly in a pan with margarine, until it’s glossy and will coat the wings better. “We get it boiling hot, then toss the wings in it,” he said. It can be served with blue cheese dressing on the side, if you ask.

That’s not the chef’s preference, though. If you want the real Middle Eastern touch, you can ask for a lemon wedge to squeeze over them, Rauvenpoor said. “The acidity cuts the heat, and you can really enjoy them.”

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