I am a huge fan of Middle Eastern food. Well, I guess it makes sense…it is where I grew up. Falafel is easily one of my top five favorite Middle Eastern foods. Over the years I have learned how to make my own falafel, and I am super excited to share my recipe with you! The good news is that making falafel is easy and quick! Once you make your own, you’ll never go back to the boxed falafel mix again.
What is Falafel?
Falafel are fried balls of ground chickpeas seasoned with herbs like parsley and cilantro and spices like garlic and cumin. They’re a popular street food throughout the Middle East, and you can find it from street vendors in almost every neighborhood. It’s often served in pita bread with a generous drizzle of tahini and loads of Mediterranean salads, and pickles. Falafel is a vegan, and you won’t believe how easy it is.
Great ingredients are key to great falafel!
Chickpeas: Dried chickpeas that are uncooked. The chickpeas need to be soaked in water for 12- 24 hours to ensure they are soft enough to process along with the other ingredients. AVOID using canned chickpeas!
Fresh herbs: Fresh herbs are best for this recipe. Parsley and cilantro are key to this authentic recipe.
Onion: Yellow or white.
Garlic: For best Middle Easter flavor, use fresh garlic cloves.
Spices: Cumin and paprika for a warm aromatic flavor.
Baking soda: This is what gives the falafel an airy, fluffy texture.
Bread: A slice of thick bread like Challah or baguette soaked in water, squeezed almost dry, and crumbled. The bread helps bind everything together and gives the falafel a moister texture.
Oil: Neutral cooking oil for frying, I like to use Canola oil.
How to Make Falafel:
1. Soak chickpeas for 12-24 hours: Cover them in plenty of water. The chickpeas will at least double in size as they soak. Drain well.
2. Make the mixture: Add chickpeas, garlic, onion, and spices to a food processor and pulse a little bit at a time until the mixture is finely ground. Soak the bread in water for a minute. Drain, crumble, and add to the mixture. Process until a coarse and moist texture is obtained. Add coriander, parsley, and sesame seeds and pulse until the mixture reaches a fine-grain texture, like coarse sand and not very mushy.
3. Refrigerate: Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. The chilled mixture will hold together better, making it easier to form the falafel patties.
4. Form balls: Once the falafel mixture has been chilled, stir in baking soda, then with wet hands, form balls.
5. Fry: Heat 3” of oil on medium-high (oil temperature 350°F) until it bubbles softly. Carefully drop the falafel in the oil, using a slotted spoon, and fry for 3-5 minutes until medium brown on the outside.
Tips for Success:
Always use dry chickpeas. Dry chickpeas that have been soaked in water for 12-24 hours will give you the best texture.
Chill the falafel mixture. Chilling for at least 1 hour helps with the shaping.
Fry in bubbling oil, and do not crowd the saucepan. For perfectly crispy falafel, the best option is deep frying. It’s always a good idea to fry one falafel first to make sure the oil temperature does not need to be adjusted.
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- 2 cups dried chickpeas that have been soaked in water overnight and drained
- 5 garlic cloves chopped
- 1/2 small onion
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 slice white bread (I like to use leftover Challah or baguette)
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- neutral oil for frying like canola
- Place the chickpeas in a food processor with garlic, onion, and spices. Soak the bread in water for a minute. Drain, crumble, and add to the mixture. Process until a coarse and moist texture is obtained.
- Add coriander, parsley, and sesame seeds. Pulse until the mixture reaches a fine-grain texture, like coarse sand and not very mushy.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover, and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
When ready to fry:
- Add the baking soda to the mixture and mix well.
- Make small balls with wet hands.
- Heat the oil on medium-high until it bubbles softly.
- Very carefully, drop the falafel in the oil, about 4-5 falafel at a time, and fry for 3-5 minutes until medium brown on the outside.
- Transfer the falafels to a bowl lined with a paper towel.
- Repeat with the remaining falafels. Once cooked, falafel should be crispy and medium brown on the outside and fluffy and light green on the inside.
- Serve immediately!