Falafel is one of the most popular traditional Arabic foods. They are fried vegetarian patties, usually made of chickpeas, fava beans or a combination of both with an assortment of herbs and spices.
If you take a walk on Friday morning you are more than likely to see people lined at the nearby falafel shop buying falafel, hummus and fool (fava bean dip)with bags of warm pitas from the oven.It is always fun watching people standing in line. You see half asleep dads, grumpy people who are clearly not into mornings 🙂 on the other hand there are those who are shining with smiles, wishing you a wonderful day as they pass you by. You will see kids giggling, happy to accompany dad or mum. Standing on the tips of their toes to see over the counter edge. Watching intently as falafel is being shaped or fried.Back at home the tea kettle will be ready with some sage or mint to flavor the morning cup of tea, a platter full of pickles, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and lemons all waiting to accompany falafel on the breakfast table.
If you have never eaten falafel, they are crunchy on the outside, soft and light on the inside. They make a wonderful appetizer, you can stuff then into pita pockets to make a falafel sandwich, add them to salad for crunch and flavor or make them into larger and flatter patties and they become vegetarian burgers.
Making falafel at home is easy, you can make a batch and cook some then freeze the rest. All you have to do is defrost it the night before in the fridge.
One year ago:Lady finger fruit dessert
Two years ago: Chicken satay, stir-fry vegetables with orange scented rice
Recipe source: Sawsan Abu Farha (chef in disguise)
This recipe makes 70 falafel patties I usually divide the dough into 4 or 5 bags, use one and freeze the rest
- 1 kg soaked chickpeas
- 250 g soaked peeled fava beans
- 1 cup parsley leaves without the stems- washed
- 1 cup cilantro leaves without the stems- washed
- 5 cloves of freshly peeled garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
To each patch 10 minutes before cooking add
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 Tablespoons of yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Tahini
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- a dash of salt
- garlic (optional)
- chopped parsley (optional)
Preparing the Falafel Mix
- Soak the fava beans and the chickpeas in water in separate containers overnight.
- The following day drain the fava beans and the chickpeas, rinse them with fresh water
- Place the fava beans, chickpeas, garlic, onions, parsley, cilantro, salt, peppers and spices in the food processor and run it until they turn into a paste. This will take time (10- 15 minutes depending on how powerful your processor is), you need a very smooth paste and you may have to stop and scrape the sides more than once (check the notes for helpful tips)
- If you feel the mix is too dry you can add a little water, one tablespoon at a time
- At this point feel free to taste the Falafel mix to make sure it has a balanced flavor.
Frying the Falafel
- 10 minutes before frying, sprinkle baking soda and baking powder on the Falafel mix, knead and let rest.
- When ready heat 1 inch deep of cooking oil in the frying pan on medium heat (you will know the oil is hot enough when you place a little falafel dough in it and it sizzles and bubbles immediately)
- Shaping the falafel: Scoop the falafel by using a specialized Falafel scoop, an ice cream scoop, or by using 2 spoons whereby you scoop the falafel paste in one, and press the other spoon against it to compact it into an oval shape. You can also use your hands to roll the falafel into balls
- Drop the falafel gently into the frying pan. no more than 4-5 because if you add too many the oil will cool down and the falafel will fall apart
- Fry for a few minutes until the falafel turns brownish (you may have to flip it to get both sides evenly browned)
- Take the falafel out and place it on a paper towel or in a colander and to get rid of excess oil.
Falafel Tahini Sauce Preparation
- Mix the Tahini sauce ingredients in the blender if adding the garlic or simply with a spoon if not until they reach a homogeneous texture.
- Sample to ensure a balance of flavors. A good Falafel Tahini sauce should taste a bit tangy with a hint of garlic.. the sauce should end up looking cream/whitish.
- Serve as a side/dip.
Putting Together the Falafel Sandwich
- Spread a pita pocket with some hummus or tahini sauce.
- While still hot, place some falafel rounds into the sandwich and mash them slightly with a fork
- Add any or all of the following garnishes: slices tomatoes, pickles, lemon slices, lettuce, mint leaves, tahini tomato salad, green salad and enjoy.
- You can find fava beans in middle eastern stores. For falafel buy the dried peeled ones, it will save you time because peeling them is a little time consuming.
- If you can’t find fava beans, replace them with chickpeas.
- You need to use dry chickpeas and fava beans, soak them, rinse them then use then in the recipe. Using canned chickpeas and fava beans will not achieve the texture you need nor the taste.
- I measure the fava beans and chickpeas after soaking because different brands absorb water differently and end up with different weights after soaking
- The amount of garlic, onions, herbs and spices is up to your taste. These are the amounts that result in a taste I like. Try it then play around with flavors if you like
- Make sure your falafel dough is as smooth as possible, scrape down the sides of the food processor repeatedly
- To help get a smooth dough I usually process the chickpeas and fava beans first until they are almost smooth, take them out of the processor. Add the herbs, onion and garlic and process until smooth, then add the spices and gradually add the processed chickpeas and fava beans. Keep processing until you get a smooth homogenous mix. You can also process the chickpeas and fava beans alone and then process the herbs and onions and garlic alone and manually knead the two mixed together with the herbs.
- To shape the falafel, traditionally a falafel mold or press is used like the one you see in the picture below. You can also use an icecream scoop, two spoons or your hands
- When you fry the falafel do it in a small pot, make sure your oil is hot and fry 4 or 5 at most at a time. If your oil is not hot enough or if you add too many patties and the oil cools down the falafel will fall apart.
- The baking powder and soda transform the patties from dense and heavy to light and airy, make sure not to forget them.
- The timing of adding the baking soda and baking powder is important. Do it 10 minutes before frying only. If you add it before freezing they will lose their activity and become useless.