Broad bean falafel

I have been planning Egyptian falafels (or ta’ameya) for years, but dried fava beans, the main ingredient, were impossible to find. Finally, I bought them on a US online shop, but, when the parcel arrived I realised they were not fava beans but…. broad beans, apparently called “fava” in the USA. I was disappointed, but when I read broad beans and fava beans were close cousins, the main difference being the size, I decided to test broad beans and it was such a wonderful surprise!

I scrolled through several Egyptian falafel recipes, but haven’t followed any particular one and used my previous experience with chickpea falafels in terms of texture and frying. This plus the presence of broad beans instead of fava beans makes these falafels only Egyptian-inspired. The fabulous result was partly due to a huge amount of fresh herbs, broad beans were the main reason of the successful outcome. Compared to chickpeas, they were creamier, lighter and easier to form compact falafels. Actually, I have decided to stop making chickpea falafels, unless I cannot find dried broad beans, of course. (I am still hoping to find dried fava beans in the British English meaning of the word!)

My favourite way to eat falafels (both chickpea and broad bean) is to squash them, place on a piece of chapatti or Mexican tortilla. Then, I add sliced red onion, cucumber, fresh sweet pepper or medium hot chilli, coriander leaves, a lettuce leaf, some thick yogurt and a splash of sriracha. A crazy mixture of international ingredients, but my favourite way. If I have Indian pickled chilli, I add it instead of sriracha!

TIPS: 

FLOUR is here to bind the ground beans, so use as much as required. Mix in the flour and try to form a falafel, tightly squashing with your hands. If it keeps the shape, there’s enough flour. You can also use different types of flour, though I’ve always used white wheat flour, so don’t know how the texture or taste changes if anything else is used.

HERBS: If you hate fresh coriander, just skip it and add more parsley. I think you can use other herbs if you like and know how the mix of them will taste! (Though, looking at different recipes I realised only coriander and parsley were recurrent).
If you don’t have green onions, add chives and one red onion or leek’s white part.

SHAPE: After years of making round falafels, I realised some time ago I prefer sausage-shaped ones because they’re easier to put into wraps. Feel free to choose the shape you prefer.

DEEP-FRYING: Do you remember my recent post about the air-fryer? Unfortunately, among my air-fryer experiments, falafels are the biggest failure. I tested them twice, was each time disappointed and returned to deep-frying. Luckily, after checking the amount of oil missing after straining it back into a bottle (in order to reuse it) I was happy to notice these falafels absorbed much less oil than for example tonkatsu (Japanese pork cutlets), another item I used to deep-fry often. In short, I don’t see any reason to experiment falafels in my air-fryer any more!

FRIDGE/FREEZER: I have noticed they keep much better if frozen rather than kept in the fridge. Just like rice, they become tough and dry in the fridge, while in the freezer they retain their moisture.

Preparation: about 45 minutes (+8 hour bean-soaking)

Ingredients (I have obtained about 20 sausage-shaped falafels):

250 g dried broad beans

1/2 handful chopped parsley (you can include stalks too)

1/2 handful chopped fresh coriander leaves (as above, stalks are welcome) or more parsley

1 big spring onion (bulb and leaves), chopped or 1 small red onion + spring onion leaves or a small bunch of chives

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons powdered chili

2 big garlic cloves, crushed

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

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 flat teaspoon salt

oil for deep-frying

a handful of white sesame seeds

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

In a food processor mix all the ingredients except for oil and sesame seeds.

Form the first falafel to check if there is enough flour to bind the mixture.

If it’s enough, form small flattened sausages or flattened balls with your hands, squeezing hard. You can always add more flour as you reach the bottom of the bowl.

Preheat the oil in a small pan (I find using a small but deep pan easier; mine can fit 3-4 falafels in the same batch). Check if it’s hot enough, throwing a pinch of falafel dough. If it goes up straight away and starts bubbling, it means the temperature is high enough (you can also use a thermometer of course!).

Place sesame seeds in a wide bowl or on a plate and dip each falafel’s two sides (you can also roll them in sesame seeds) just before frying.

Fry the falafels, trying not to overcrowd, till they are dark golden.

Shake them well while taking out of the pan and then place on paper towels to absorb oil.

Serve them in wraps or on green salads or squashed, in sandwiches.

If you make a big batch, it’s better to freeze them at once instead of keeping in the fridge where they become tough and dry.

9 Replies to “Broad bean falafel”

    1. Thank you, Karen. 99% of falafels tasted in restaurants/takeaway stalls are dry. My falafels (even those with chickpeas) are never so dry, so I guess it’s a question of quality or maybe freshness?

  1. Who doesn’t love a good falafel? These look really good and I do like that shape. That makes total sense to make them more as links than balls. I’ve eaten many falafels but have never made them. I always thought they would be hard to make, but your recipe shows different. Something I need to add to my list of “things to make” now that I have a great recipe! Thanks Sissi.

    1. Thank you so much, MJ! Since now I know you can find dried broad beans in the US, you should try them instead of chickpeas! Both chickpea and broad bean falafels are ridiculously easy! I always make big batches and then freeze them. Whenever I want a quick meal I make a quick falafel wrap or sandwich!

  2. I have not enjoyed falafels in the past but these look exceptionally good. I’m surprised that dried favas are elusive in Switzerland, have you tried Italy? I will give your recipe a try, we have some vegetarian friends and this could make a wonderful appetizer.

    1. Hi Eva, thank you for the kind words. I find it difficult to find good falafels (there is only one takeaway stall in our city making good falafels and they are made with fava beans!), but those made at home are really delicious and so easy to prepare, I’m always wondering what they do to the poor falafels that they are so tasteless or/and dry!
      I have never seen dried fava beans anywhere here or in France (not even dried broad beans, though I’ve seen these online in French organic shops), but I finally found last week dried fava beans (the ones used in Egypt) in a UK-based online shop and am impatiently waiting for the parcel!
      Broad bean falafels are creamier than the chickpea ones and I guess fava bean ones are similar, so I’d recommend this version!

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