As an avowed carni- and piscivore I usually feel the need of animal or seafood protein presence in order to feel I am having a full nourishing meal. Falafels are one of the rare exceptions and on the rare occasions when I am got to a kebab sandwich shop, I surprise myself with choosing the vegetarian snack rather than the meat-loaded option. For those who have never seen falafel, it is a deep-fried ball – usually slightly squashed – made with chickpeas, chickpeas and fava beans or only fava beans. Falafels are popular in Middle Eastern countries and apparently have origins in Egypt. They are so widely consumed in Israel that this year McDonald’s launched McFalafel there! Falafel can be served as a snack or appetizer but it is usually bought wrapped in thicker bread or in thin pita bread together with raw vegetables and sauce(s). I have already had falafel sandwich in Lebanese, Turkish and Egyptian shops. Every time the taste was slightly different, but rarely disappointing.

When, a couple of days ago, browsing through Baking Devils blog I saw appetising home-made falafels, I decided to give them a try. The preparation was quick (apart from the overnight soaking time), easy and the result more than satisfying. In fact, these were the best falafels I have ever had in my life! Thank you, Baking Devils, for this wonderful recipe!

If, like me, you have dried chickpeas, you should soak them overnight, but I swear, the result is worth waiting for! I have only slightly modified the below ingredients’ amounts, but the recipe stays the same. My favourite pairing for falafels in a rolled pita is a mixture of hot chili sauce, yogurt (or sour milk), chopped onion, salad, cucumber and tomato. Even though the falafel balls are usually slightly squashed, I have only squashed mine when putting them into pita. I haven’t managed to squash them before frying. The balls would fall into pieces every time I tried doing it.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the courage to make my own pita bread, but you will find a very well explained  – and apparently not complicated – pita recipe on Baking Devils blog. (Jenny and Shilpa are so creative, they have even thought about a Mexican falafel version with black beans!).

TIP: The flour is here to bind the ground chickpeas, so use as much as required. Sometimes I need just one tablespoon and the balls are easily formed, but sometimes I need five tablespoons…. just mix in the flour and try to form a ball, tightly squashing with your hands. If it keeps the shape, there’s enough flour.

Falafels taste much much better if made with raw soaked chickpeas (not canned ones), so do make an effort and try soaking chickpeas at least once. You will never want to go back to cooked or canned chickpea falafels!

If you hate fresh coriander, just skip it and add more parsley.

Preparation: about 45 minutes

Ingredients (I have obtained about 20 apricot-sized balls):

250 g dry or 400 g canned chickpeas

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon powdered chili

1 small red onion

1 big garlic clove

1 tablespoon flour (or more, up to 5-6 tablespoons, see the TIP above)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 flat teaspoon salt

black pepper

oil for deep-frying

(pita bread and for example tomatoes, cucumbers, salad, onion, hot sauce, mayonnaise, yogurt…)

If you have dry chickpeas start by soaking them overnight in cold water with a pinch of baking soda.

If you have canned chickpeas you can start the preparation straight away.

Put all the ingredients (apart from oil of course) in a food processor and mix them very well to a coarse, but homogeneous paste.

Heat the oil (test if it’s hot enough by throwing a pinch of your chickpea paste, if it doesn’t stay at the bottom, but goes up at once and starts bubbling, it means the temperature is high enough for frying).

Form small balls, flattened or not, with your hands (mine were apricot-sized) or “sausages” or any shape you like, squeezing hard. Add flour if necessary.

Fry them, trying not to overcrowd the pan, until golden.

Serve with raw vegetables (lettuce, cucumber, sweet or hot pepper…) and sauces (yogurt, tzatziki, mayonnaise, sriracha…) wrapped in pita bread, Mexican tortilla or chapatti. You can also serve them as a snack/appetizer or on a bowl of green salad.

34 Replies to “Falafel”

  1. Falafels are one of my favourite and I find them very satisfying too. I’ve never tried them with hot chili sauce – how great! I usually do a cucumber dill sauce. I don’t make my own pita either – there are so many perfectly good and healthy options available, I’m at peace with that decision 🙂 Great recipe Sissi.

    1. Thank you, Kelly. I must try with cucumber dill sauce (the Bulgarian dry tarator seems a good choice…), thank you for the tip!

  2. I absolutely love these but never made them at home even though they are so simple. And I suppose its probably also possible to make a lot and freeze it to save time. “I have obtained about 20 apricot-sized balls” – dried or fresh apricots. Hahaha, sorry could not help it.

    1. Mr. Three-Cookies, you made me laugh! Will you believe me if I say I spent some time thinking to what fruit/vegetable/nut I could compare the size of my falafels?
      You made me also think I’m not a very precise person and often forget to check how many pieces, jars, liters my recipe produces! I am sure it is possible to freeze them either cooked or raw, but my freezer always lacks space so I haven’t tried it (not to mention the fact that we – and we are only two – devoured the whole batch in two meals…).

  3. Sissi, I am one of those person who hasn’t been fortunate enough to taste a falafel, though I do remember on Food Network, Chef Bobby Flay did a challenge with a sister team about that and lost. Upon seeing your photo, I actually thought you made meat balls. The next time we venture to Middle Eastern restaurants, I gotta order one and see what the buzz is all about. Thanks for sharing!

    1. They resemble meat balls, don’t they? Maybe this is why I consider them as a meat substitute? (Just kidding!). Seriously, whenever I had them in fast food shops, they were always a bit flattened and bigger (I have no idea how they manage to flatten them, mine were falling into pieces unless I left them ball-shaped).

  4. You should make the pita bread. It isn’t that difficult and the result is spectacular. Seriously, after I make a batch my family devours it!

    I remember having falafel in a little middle eastern restaurant in London, it makes me nervous to try and recreate that because I recall it tasting to perfect.

    1. Thank you, Clarkie, for the encouragement! I will try it one day, I’m sure!
      I must admit I have never been to any Middle Eastern restaurant, only in fast-food shops. I was very surprised that my falafels were better than the best ones I have ever bought.

    1. Thank you, Greg! It was really good (not my recipe, so I can boast 😉 ) Making our own sandwiches at the table with pita, vegetables and sauces was lots of fun.

  5. Oh Sissi, you took the shot of these falafels so beautifully! This is one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes. Thank you for sharing.

    By the way, did you know that if you are feeling awful and eat some of this delicious dish you will not “Falafel” anymore? 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend Sissi! 🙂

    ~ ray ~

    1. You are so kind, Ray! I am flattered a great photograph like you liked my photo. I love the play on words! Have a great weekend too!

  6. Haha, you read my mind I think Sissi – I was just talking with my wife this evening about if we could go and have falafel in the Marais area of Paris soon (they have some incredible falafel places… warm soft pita breads, grilled aubergine, hot, crispy falafel, creamy, oily hummus, droooooool)

    I’ve tried making falafel before but it’s always been a complete disaster. I think I always tried to shallow-fry, which of course is going to be a sure mess. I’ve been deep-frying a lot more recently and am a lot more comfortable with it so perhaps I’ll give these another shot.

    1. Charles, I have heard about the great falafels and other sandwiches in Marais, but have never tasted them. Lucky you! I haven’t though about putting grilled aubergine and hummous in the sandwiches, thank you for the idea! I could write a whole book with a list of the dishes I tried to shallow fry or bake instead of deep-frying and which were a disaster… Sometimes you simply have to let them swim in oil 🙂

  7. Just yesterday my husband was asking me to make falafel and here you are tempting me with it 🙂 I was avoiding deep frying but looking at these now, i doubt i can.

    1. Kankana, as much as I avoid deep-frying, these falafels were worth the effort and, well, it’s better to forget the oil they absorbed 😉

  8. I’m like Cindy, I haven’t tried falafels in my life! I remember I saw these on Baking Devils too. You are always trying something new… that’s what we need to improve cooking and taste buds! These look delicious…. so many recipes that I need to try! Have a great weekend Sissi! Matane!

    1. Thank you, Nami! I haven’t thought about it, but it’s obvious the more we taste of very different dishes and cuisines the more we develop our taste buds. Have a wonderful weekend too! Matane!

  9. Great site and look forward to exploring you recipes. The falafels caught my eye. My husband’s side of the family is half Armenian and they eat Mid Eastern foods all the time, one of my favorites. I’ve never made falafels from scratch, looks so easy and need to try it.

    1. Thank you, Lisa, for the compliments and welcome to my blog! I have never tried Armenian falafels and since every nation does them in a slightly different way, I am very curious what they taste like! Making falafels is easy indeed. The only tiresome part is the moment when you squeeze out the liquid while forming balls.

  10. I love falafel, although I have never made my own. I’m so scared of deep frying. One of my neighbors was from Egypt and almost every week she’s bring us a couple. Now she moved out … I miss her dishes.
    Yours look so tempting, wish I had a couple for dinner tonight.

  11. Like Nami I havent tried this one yet, though I see a lot of this in Indiian restauants. Looks like I will now make one at home using your recipe

  12. Sissi…thank you for giving these falafels a try..they are so yummy and yours look very cute and super yummy..infact, yours do not look greasy at all…you are always trying new things and I do sincerely hope you are working on a book of your gorgeous chutneys and preserves…

    1. Shilpa, you are very kind… They didn’t taste greasy, didn’t look greasy, but when I saw the level of the deep-frying oil I wanted to scream. (Certainly the Japanese tempura or chicken karaage absorb less oil.) On the other hand, I don’t make them every day. Thank you for this easy and delicious recipe. Everything I try from your blog works perfectly well! I am so happy you appreciate my chutneys and preserves!

  13. Eek–I am always scared by the idea of that frying (not for the calorie content but for the hot oil!) However, I tried baked falafel once and they were disappointing…so….

    1. Sara, I used let’s say about 5-6 cm oil in my pan. I always deep-fry in a small, but deep pan, on the furthest burner (I don’t know if you call it like this) and have never been burnt. However, I burnt myself with “standard” frying many times…
      Some things simply have to be deep-fried. I have also had very bad experiments when trying to make some dishes healthier.

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