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Falafel

Falafel


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  • Prep 15min
  • Total3hr0min
  • Servings4

These are great served by themselves or in pita bread. (Image by yummyporky @ Flickr)MORE+LESS-

ByTBSP Nate

Updated May 12, 2015

Ingredients

1

cup dried white fava or garbanzo beans

1

small red onion, finely chopped

3

tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2

tablespoons Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

2

teaspoons finely chopped garlic cloves

1

teaspoon ground coriander

3/4

teaspoon ground cumin

1/4

teaspoon baking powder

1/4

teaspoon ground ground red pepper (cayenne)

Steps

Hide Images

  • 1

    Heat 2 cups water and the beans to boiling in 2-quart saucepan. Boil 2 minutes, remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour.

  • 2

    Add enough water to cover beans if necessary. Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 to 1/2 hours or until tender. Drain, reserving liquid.

  • 3

    Mash beans with fork, add 2 to 3 tablespoons reserved liquid if necessary. (Do not puree beans in blender or food processor.) Stir in remaining ingredients execept oil. (Mixture should be thick.) Cover and let stand 1 hour.

  • 4

    Pinch off 1-inch pieces; shape into rounds and flatten. Let stand 30 minutes.

  • 5

    Heat oil (2 inches) in 3-quart saucepan to 375°F. Fry 4 or 5 rounds at a time in oil 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

Nutrition Information

No nutrition information available for this recipe


My Favorite Falafel

Editor's note: The recipe and introductory text below are excerpted from Joan Nathan's book The Foods of Israel Today. Nathan also shared some helpful cooking tips exclusively with Epicurious, which we've added at the bottom of the page.

Every Israeli has an opinion about falafel, the ultimate Israeli street food, which is most often served stuffed into pita bread. One of my favorite spots is a simple stand in the Bukharan Quarter of Jerusalem, adjacent to Mea Shearim. The neighborhood was established in 1891, when wealthy Jews from Bukharan engaged engineers and city planners to plan a quarter with straight, wide streets and lavish stone houses. After the Russian Revolution, with the passing of time and fortunes, the Bukharan Quarter lost much of its wealth, but even so the area retains a certain elegance. There, the falafel is freshly fried before your eyes and the balls are very large and light. Shlomo Zadok, the elderly falafel maker and falafel stand owner, brought the recipe with him from his native Yemen.

Zadok explained that at the time of the establishment of the state, falafel — the name of which probably comes from the word pilpel (pepper) — was made in two ways: either as it is in Egypt today, from crushed, soaked fava beans or fava beans combined with chickpeas, spices, and bulgur or, as Yemenite Jews and the Arabs of Jerusalem did, from chickpeas alone. But favism, an inherited enzymatic deficiency occurring among some Jews — mainly those of Kurdish and Iraqi ancestry, many of whom came to Israel during the mid 1900s — proved potentially lethal, so all falafel makers in Israel ultimately sopped using fava beans, and chickpea falafel became an Israeli dish.

The timing was right for falafel in those early years, with immigrants pouring in. Since there was a shortage of meat, falafel made a cheap, protein-rich meal — and people liked it.

Rachama Ihshady, daughter of the founder of another favorite Jerusalem falafel joint, Shalom's Falafel on Bezalel Street, told me that her family recipe, also of Yemenite origin, has not changed since British times. Using the basics taught to me by these falafel mavens, I have created my own version, adding fresh parsley and cilantro, two ingredients I like and which originally characterized Arab falafel in Israel. Give me mine wrapped in a nice warm pita bread, swathed in tahina sauce an overflowing with pickled turnip and eggplant, chopped peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, amba (pickled mango sauce) — and make it harif, Hebrew for "hot." The type of hot sauce used, of course, depends on the origin of the falafel maker.


This cool and refreshing falafel sauce you’ll want to slather on just about everything: cucumber sauce! Stir together shredded cucumber with Greek yogurt, lemon, garlic, and dill, and it’s nothing short of a revelation. It's perfect for authentic falafel sandwiches, but it works on any sandwich, burger, or even grilled veggie platter. Use it as a healthy dip, spread, or slather: you name it! The best part: it’s actually quick and takes just minutes to put together.


Air Fryer Falafel

Get your air fryer ready and put the oil away! This falafel is beyond easy to make and most of time is simply spent on working in batches (the worst, we know!) in the air fryer. Well spiced and tender, this is our favorite way to make falafel. Be sure to go slow when making the mixture. You don't want to blend so far that it becomes a paste or the falafel won't really form. It needs some structure from the mostly broken down chickpeas. If you find the mixture is too wet you can wet your hands lightly and it will make it easier to form the falafels. You only need to gently squeeze the mixture together as they hold their shape well in the air fryer (unlike in oil!). I gently pass the ball back and forth in my hands to help form into a nice circle.

Want to make the best pita sandwich with your falafel? Try making homemade pita bread for it!


How to Make the Best Falafel (at Home!)

Are you ready to make homemade falafel? Great! Let’s break this into two parts – making the dough and then cooking (so you can choose your preferred cooking method).

How to Make the Falafel Dough Mixture

  1. Soak your dried chickpeas. Overnight or for at least 8-12 hours. Note that the chickpeas will triple in size, so cover them with plenty of water. Then drain and rinse them.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Add the chickpeas, onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, green pepper and spices to a food processor. I recommend roughly chopping up the onion, herbs and pepper before adding. Pulse the food processor but do not blend completely. The final mixture should resemble coarse sand.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Then add the chickpea flour and baking soda, stir it together until it’s fully combined and cover with plastic wrap or a lid.
  4. Place the bowl in the fridge. Chill the falafel mixture for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Shape your falafel. You can do this by hand, with a cookie scoop (which is what I use) or a falafel scoop. Decide if you’d like round balls or flatter patty shapes. The flatter shapes are better if you plan to pan fry or bake. Any shape can be used for deep frying. Form all your falafel and place on a plate.


In the past I have always served baked falafel in pita bread, and added all the toppings separately, similar to how you would layer the toppings on a burger. My daughter, Heather, recently experimented with combining all the ingredients together in a bowl, and then wrapping it all up in a large tortilla. This is so delicious that I’m sure we will never go back to our old way of eating falafel. This combination works well either stuffed into pita or wrapped up in a tortilla. This is a richer food because of the tahini sauce. However, this may also be made with hummus instead of tahini, which would be much lower in fat content, but still delicious!

Ingredients

Directions

1 Combine all ingredients for Tahini Sauce in a food processor and process until smooth. Place in a bowl.

2 Mix the vegetables and falafel into the tahini sauce. Stuff into pita halves, or place a line of the mixture down the center of a tortilla, roll up and eat.

Hints: The easiest way to make the baked falafel is to purchase the falafel mix sold in the bulk section of most natural food stores and also in packages in some supermarkets. The dry powder is mixed with water, allowed to rest for about 10 minutes, then formed into patties that resemble burgers. The directions tell you to fry in oil, but the falafel should be placed on a dry non-stick griddle and cooked about 5 minutes on each side, until browned. They may also be baked in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes on each side, until browned. Try the recipe for Falafel Patties here at McDougall Mobile Cookbook. To reduce the fat content of the tahini slightly, be sure to pour off all the oil from the top of the jar before using. Other vegetables may be added to the sauce as desired. A chopped avocado is one nice addition.


Classic Homemade Falafel

Falafel (pronounced "fell-off-uhl"), sometimes spelled "felafel" or "felafil," is a deep-fried ball or patty that is made from either chickpeas or fava beans and spices. It is a vegetarian and vegan food and one of the most widely consumed and recognized foods of the Middle East. It's a very popular fast food around the world, and vendors sell it on the street corners in countries like Egypt, Syria, and Israel, where it's the national dish.

Falafel is a favorite among vegetarians with its crisp outside and tender inside with a mildly spiced flavor thanks to the garlic, parsley, and spices. The spices are a key aspect and can be personalized to taste. Make sure you leave enough time to soak the dried chickpeas overnight before mixing up your batter and frying.

As a main dish, falafel is often served as a sandwich, stuffed in pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and tahini. As an appetizer, it can be served on a salad or with hummus and tahini. It's also often served with hot sauce.


What is falafel?

Falafel is a deep fried ball or patty made with ground chickpeas or fav beans, spices & herbs. These are a traditional dish from Middle Eastern cuisine and are popular across the globe as a fast food.

As falafel are naturally gluten free, vegetarian & high protein food they became very popular globally. These are great for people on meat free diet.

How is falafel made?

Traditional falafel is made by soaking dry chickpeas. Then they are processed along with spices, herbs, onions & garlic to a coarse mixture. This is then formed to balls or patties and fried in hot oil or baked.

However falafel can also be made using canned chickpeas which are precooked but they taste entirely different from those made from the dried chickpeas.

In the past I had made these a few times with cooked chickpeas and the results were compromising. The cooked chickpeas have too much moisture in them which tend to make the falafel softer. So a lot of flour has to be added which alters the taste.


Falafel

Until recently, if you’d asked me if I ever wanted to make falafel at home, I’d have said “sure, one day” but what I meant was “nah, why bother?” I was certain that falafel was fussy to make and had a long ingredient list. It probably related in some way to a fritter, meaning that it was bound with eggs and flour, and probably had breading on it too, all pesky steps and this is even before you get to the peskiest of all: deep-frying them. I figured that it’s one of these things that there as many recipes for as there are people who make it, thus whatever I came up with would be wrong by default – too firm or too soft, with chickpeas instead of favas or vice-versa — no matter what. But this isn’t the whole truth. The fact is that below 14th Street, there are two locations each of Taim and Mamoun’s every time I even distantly considered whether I needed a homemade falafel recipe in my life, I knew I could get a perfectly executed sandwich in my hands before I even wrote out a grocery list.




Hey, I’m not proud of this. I pride myself on being a curious person in the realm of cooking so it’s pretty pathetic that I had falafel all worked up in my head as this highly complex thing and never once, you know, read a few recipes. Had I, I’d have learned many extremely cool things about falafel such as the fact that while you do need to start with dried chickpeas (come back!), you don’t even have to cook them, or not in the classic long-simmered way, to make it. You soak them overnight in cold water, grind them up with seasonings and herbs, pack them into spoonfuls, fry them in less than an inch of oil in merely a few minutes, and that is it. There’s no egg. There’s no breading. It’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, it’s dirt cheap, and it’s easy, I mean criminally easy, to make. And I had to do it immediately.



In real life, however, I waited until the first night of Hanukah for two reasons, one, fried food is basically the only rule of the holiday, and two, a family member has recently gone vegan and I weirdly love the challenge of trying new menus (obviously, the meal ended with this cake). Making falafel for 10 people was so easy, I had spare time to kill and so I decided to make pita bread too. Okay, I’m a little nuts but the fact is that 90% of storebought pita is dry and terrible and even the worst homemade pita, the couple that refuse to puff or puff erratically, as you see here, is still delicious.


Previously

Falafel

  • Servings: Makes 19 falafel fritters, for 4 to 6 pitas sandwiches
  • Time: 30 minutes plus an overnight and 30 minute rest

This makes 19 pieces of falafel about 1.5 inches in diameter, using a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop to measure. I estimate 3 to 4 for each medium-large pita sandwich portion, to make 4 to 6 total, but we preferred only 3 in each. This recipe scales easily I’d recommend doubling it for a crowd or even just to stock your freezer for a future falafel night.

  • 1/2 pound (1 1/4 cups or 225 grams) dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 a large onion, roughly chopped or 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled (I use 4 but adjust to your tastes)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, if you’re measuring, or a big handful
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, if you’re measuring, or a big handful
  • 1 teaspoons fine sea salt or 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes or mild ones such as urfa biber or Aleppo
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
  • To serve: Pitas, tahini sauce (below), tomato-cucumber salad, harissa (homemade or storebought) or another hot sauce (such as zhoug), and any pickled vegetables you wish, such as cucumbers, red onion, or mango (amba)
    The night before: Place chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them by a few inches. I like to put 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per pound of chickpeas in this water too it will not toughen the beans or slow down their cooking time, it simply seasons them. Let the chickpeas soak overnight.

An hour or so before you’d like to eat falafel: Drain the chickpeas well. In the bowl of a food processor or a really strong blender, place the onion, garlic, and herbs and pulse the machine until they’re coarsely. Add the drained chickpeas, salt, and spices and process until blended to a fine chop but not pureed. You’re looking for a texture like cooked couscous plus some slightly larger bits throughout. You should be able to pinch it together into a shape that holds.

Transfer chickpea mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic, and place in refrigerator for a few hours, if you have it, but I find even 30 minutes is helpful in getting the mixture to thicken and hold shape better. [This is when I like to get everything else ready.]

To shape the falafel: Form the chickpea mixture into walnut-sized balls. You could use a falafel scoop, if you have one, tablespoon measuring spoon, or even a cookie scoop, as I did. The most important thing is that you press it into the scoop tightly to compress the ingredients, then gently roll it in the palm of your hands to form a ball. Repeat with remaining chickpea mixture. (If you’re like me, you imagine you can just do this as you add them to the pan, but they cook so quickly, you’ll be happy to not have to multitask. Trust me.)

To cook the falafel: Heat 3/4 to 1-inch of oil in a medium-large frying pan to 375°F. Fry about 6 falafel fritters at a time, turning them over once they’re a nice toasty brown underneath, and removing them once the second half has the same color. This took me about 3 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining fritters.

[Don’t have a thermometer? Well, 375 is very, very hot. It takes my frying pan of oil on high heat about 5 minutes to reach this temperature. You can also test a small ball if it cooks in about 3 minutes, it’s probably about the right temperature.]

To serve: I like to split open a pita and start with a little tahini sauce (below) and a spoonful of salad at the bottom before adding 3 to 4 falafel fritters. Stuff and finish with a more generous scoop of tomato-cucumber salad, more tahini sauce, a hot sauce of your choice, and pickles, if you wish.


Falafel wraps

START COOKING
1. Drain the beans and chickpeas and put them into the processor.
2. Finely grate in the lemon zest, then add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, the harissa, allspice, flour and coriander stalks (reserving the leaves). Blitz until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor if needed.
3. Scrape out the mixture and use clean, wet hands to quickly divide and shape it into 8 patties about 1.5cm thick.
4. Put 1 tablespoon of oil into the frying pan and add the falafels, turning when golden and crisp.
5. Rip the seeds and stalks out of the peppers and tear each one into bite-sized chunks. Trim and halve the spring onions, then put on the griddle pan with the peppers and a pinch of salt and pepper, turning when charred.
6. Put the tomatoes, chilli and half the coriander leaves into the processor. Squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher, squeeze in the lime juice, whiz until fine, then season to taste and pour into a serving dish.
7. Pop the tortillas into the microwave (800W) for 45 seconds while you marble the chilli sauce into the cottage cheese.
8. Squeeze the juice of half the zested lemon over the charred veggies, then take with the falafels to the table, scattering everything with the rest of the coriander.
9. Let everyone assemble their own wraps, and serve with pickled red cabbage, if you like.

EASY SWAPS
– Use a tin of cannellini, red kidney, black, pinto, or black-eyed beans if you can’t get hold of a tin of mixed beans.
– Swap the harissa for another chilli paste or try making your own.
– Smoked paprika is fantastic in place of the allspice.
– Any chilli sauce will work a treat.
– I’ve gone for a rainbow salsa with mixed-colour tomatoes here, but you can use whatever colour you’ve got.
– You can switch the wraps for wholemeal pittas or go all out and rustle up my easy flatbreads.

ON THE SIDE
– Serve with a simple green salad for a veg-packed meal.