Falafel is the most common and well-known Middle Eastern street/fast food. It is commonly a deep-fried ball or patty-shaped fritter made from chickpeas (Levante), fava beans (Egypt), or a combination of the two.
The word falafel can mean two different things: the fritters, or the sandwich filled with them. It is of Arabic origin and means pepper.
🤔 What are the health benefits of chickpeas?
Chickpeas are high in protein, carbs, and fiber. They also contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, and most of the B-complex vitamins. Chickpeas are also low in fat and contain no cholesterol. When falafels are baked and not deep-fried, they also have low-fat content.
Chickpeas have a low glycemic index and they contain a type of starch called amylose. Both of these things help to control blood sugar. Because they are high in dietary fiber, chickpeas also help with digestion. Due to their high amount of calcium and other nutrients, they give us stronger bones. But we need to make sure that we always soak them, otherwise, our body doesn't absorb the calcium.
Chickpeas: Use dried, soaked, overnight chickpeas, with their skin removed.
Onion: I use red onion for its slightly sweet flavor, and spring onions for their mild, sweet, and fresh flavor.
Garlic: Fresh garlic adds a punchy flavor, or we can use garlic powder if we prefer a softer taste.
Flour: Flour helps to bind the mixture and retain the falafel shape while cooking. To make the falafel gluten-free, use a chickpea flour, or all-purpose gluten-free flour, or rolled oats. All-purpose flour can always be used if there are no gluten consumption problems.
Herbs and spices: Cumin, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, salt, parsley, dill, and cilantro are the most common aromatic herbs and spices that inject flavor to the falafel. I use mint or spearmint instead of parsley (because of an allergy), smoked paprika or cayenne pepper, and turmeric powder.
👩🏻🍳 Tips & tricks
Do not use cooked or canned chickpeas to prepare the falafel mixture. Cooking them will cause the falafel to fall apart.
Soak the chickpeas overnight for 8-12 hours, adding ¾ teaspoon baking soda to the water. That makes removing their skin easy. Use a large bowl and cover the chickpeas with plenty of water, because when soaked, they double or triple in size!
Chill the mixture for at least 1 hour. This will ensure that the cooked falafel has a crunchy crust, and is fluffy inside. It also makes it easier to form the falafel.
Add a little bit of baking powder/soda to the falafel mixture, to make them fluffier inside after the mixture is chilled.
There are 3 different ways to cook the falafel:
- Deep fried. Fry them in heated oil, until golden on the outside.
- Pan fried. Use a non-stick frying pan with some olive oil, and cook each side until golden.
- Baked in the oven. Place them on a baking sheet, lightly brush them with olive oil, and bake them until crispy and golden brown.
Falafel may be eaten alone, as a snack, or served as part of a meze tray. Usually, it is served in a piece of hollow pita bread or wrapped in a flatbread. The serving options can be many:
- Tahini based sauce
- Fresh salad (tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber)
- Pickled vegetables
- Hot sauce
- Greek spicy cheese dip (tirokafteri)
- Roasted peppers
- Roasted/fried eggplant slices
🥡 How to store
The falafel mixture can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept in the fridge.
Cooked falafel can be stored in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to 3 days. As time goes by, the texture is changing. They will not be as crispy outside.
To freeze falafel, shape into patties or balls, place them in an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Cook them frozen, but keep in mind that it may need ~ 5 minutes extra.
😋 Related recipes
Serve the falafel with this:
- Food processor
- 600 g/21.16 oz chickpeas soaked & drained
- 1 medium red onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 spring onions
- 36 g/¼ cup chickpea flour
- 4 tablespoon rolled oats gluten-free
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder optional
- ½ teaspoon baking powder gluten-free
- 10 g/¼ cup fresh dill
- 6 g/¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 6 g/¼ cup spearmint leaves
- 2 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- juice of ½ lemon
- Weight 600g of pre-soaked and drained chickpeas, with their skins removed. Then dry them gently with a towel (pat dry).
- Place the chickpeas, rolled oats, onion, garlic, herbs, and spices into a food processor, and mix until everything is well combined. The texture should be as a coarse meal and a thick paste, combined. Don't over-process.
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl or food container, add the chickpea flour, and lemon juice, and knead into the mixture.
- Cover the mixture bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for ~ 1 hour. After the mixture is cool, add the baking powder and mix before shaping and baking the falafel.
- Preheat the oven at 190°C (375°F) fan and place parchment paper to a baking sheet.
- Using an ice-cream scoop number 40 (1 ½ tablespoon) or your hands, form the falafel. If the mixture is too wet, add another tablespoon of chickpea or oat flour.
- Put the falafel on the baking sheet and brush them with olive oil.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning them halfway through baking, until golden brown.
- Serve the falafel hot as a mezze or main dish.
- Enjoy 😀
🍋 Nutrition facts
Servings: 1 (29g) | Calories: 89kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 79mg | Potassium: 179mg | Fiber: 2.7g | Sugar: 2.38g | Vitamin A: 111IU | Vitamin C: 3.5mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1.2mg | Manganese: 4.102mg