A popular vegetarian dish eaten throughout the Middle East and one of my all-time favorite street foods, falafel are deep-fried balls or patties made from ground chickpeas or fava beans. They’re traditionally stuffed in a pita or served as part of a mezze platter (an assortment of appetizers) with hummus, tahini sauce, and yogurt sauce. Falafel is one of those dishes that most people don’t bother to make at home because it seems exotic and difficult. But that’s not the case at all! Making falafel is as easy as making meatballs, and you don’t even have to deep-fry. The key is follow one rule: never, ever use canned chickpeas. Trust me, I tried it once and it was a mushy disaster. You have to use dried chickpeas that have been soaked but not cooked.
Begin by soaking the chickpeas overnight. Don’t worry if you’re short on time, you can use the quick-soak method: place the beans in a pot and cover with water by about three inches; bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let stand for one hour.
Drain the chickpeas and add to a food processor along with the scallions, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and spices.
Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
Form the mixture into patties. I prefer this shape as opposed to balls since I’m pan-frying (not deep-frying).
Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Pan fry half of the falafel, moving them around a bit so they don’t stick and flipping once, until golden brown all over, about 5 minutes total.
Drain on paper towels.
- 2 cups dried chickpeas, rinsed and picked over
- 8 scallions, from 1 bunch, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 4 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by about 4 inches. Soak overnight, adding more water if necessary to keep the chickpeas covered. (Alternatively, if you're short on time, you can use the quick-soak method: place the chickpeas in a pot and cover with water by about three inches; bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let stand for one hour.)
- Drain the chickpeas and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add all of the other ingredients except for the oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Form heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture into patties about 1/2 inch thick and 1-1/2 inches wide.
- Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add half of the falafel to the pan (the falafel should sizzle immediately when you drop it in the oil; if it doesn't, wait another minute or two for the oil to heat up.) Nudge the falafel with a metal spatula occasionally so it doesn't stick. When the first side is golden, flip and cook a few minutes more until golden all over. The total cook time should be about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the falafel to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Cook the second batch, then serve warm or room temperature with tahini or yogurt sauce.
- Serving size: 1 falafel
- Calories: 228
- Fat: 14 g
- Saturated fat: 1 g
- Carbohydrates: 20 g
- Sugar: 4 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Sodium: 307 mg
- Cholesterol: 0
Reviews & Comments
Hungry for ?
Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter — where I share new recipes and seasonal menus for every occasion.
Your email address will never be used for any other purpose.
Curious? See a sample newsletter.