Today’s recipe is one of my favorite Middle Eastern treats: falafel. In fact, it’s also probably my favorite vegan/vegetarian dish as well. These mini fried chickpea (yes, I know that some cultures use different legumes) balls are extremely tasty and a lot of fun to make! There are just a few key steps that you need to make in order to make your own crispy and delicious falafel.
In order to make your own falafel, there are a few things that are non-negotiable must-dos:
- You must use dry chickpeas! Do not substitute with the canned chickpeas – they will not come out right. I tried using canned chickpeas my first time making falafel and they just would not stick together/work correctly. Use the dry ones and make sure to soak them overnight so that they soften.
- Pulse all of your ingredients together to make it into a paste (you don’t want to over-process it). Once this consistency is reached, refrigerate it for a couple of ours so that it will bind together better.
- Make sure to fry them at the correct temperature. The correct temperature is about 375ºF. If you fry at too low of a temperature, the falafel won’t get as crispy. If you fry at too high of a temperature, the falafel could burn on the outside. You want your end result to be a falafel that’s crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.
Following these key steps will leave you with amazing falafel.
Forming the falafel
After soaking the chickpeas overnight so that they have softened, you’re going to pulse them into a paste with the following ingredients:
- Yellow onion
- Cayenne (optional)
- Baking powder
As mentioned above, once this has been pulsed into a paste like consistency, refrigerate it so that it will solidify better when forming the falafels. To form the falafel, you could use a falafel scoop or your hands (this is how I do it). You can make them any size that you would like but I typically make them about the size of a meatball – which is usually 2-3 tablespoons worth of the mixture. These falafel balls might stick loosely together at this point but will bind together once fried.
Frying the falafel
Frying the falafel is a fairly easy and straightforward process. As mentioned previously, the key is making sure to fry them at the correct temperature: 375ºF. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or any deep pot and fry about 5-6 at a time (or whatever can comfortably fit without overcrowding). It will only take them 2-3 minutes to per side. You really just want them to bind together and become golden brown on each side. Once done, remove them from the oil and set aside. Repeat until all falafels are cooked.
So many ways to enjoy
One fun thing about falafel is that there are multiple ways to enjoy! Eat it on it’s own, in a pita or wrap, as part of a mezze platter, or with couscous for just a few options. They also are delicious with different sauces or dips like hummus, toum (Lebanese garlic sauce – my personal favorite), tahini, and a Greek tzatziki. It really is an amazing and versatile vegan/vegetarian dish. For me, I love stuffing some homemade pita bread (recipe to come in the future) with falafel, sliced onion, tomato, and a large amount of toum – it’s absolutely delicious! Try this recipe out and let me know your thoughts. I think you will agree that it’s pretty simple to make delicious falafels.
- 16 oz Dry chickpeas
- 1/2 tsp Baking soda
- Water to soak the dry chickpeas
- 1 Yellow onion chopped
- 5 Garlic cloves chopped
- 1 Handful parsley
- 1.5 tbsp Flour
- 2 tsp Salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp Caradmom
- Cayenne pepper optional; to taste
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- Avocado oil for frying; any neutral oil also works
- The night before you are going to make falafel, add the dry chickpeas to a large bowl and cover with about 3 inches of water. Mix in the baking soda. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. After about 12 hours (sometime in the morning the next day), drain and replace the water with fresh water. Continue to soak for up to a total of 24 hours (you do not need to go this long – just until the chickpeas have softened)
- After soaking, drain the chickpeas and add to a food processor along with the onion, garlic, parsley, flour, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, cayenne (if using), and baking powder. Pulse everything until a paste is formed. Scrape down the sides to make sure that gets pulsed as well.
- Pour the paste into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Heat the oil to 375ºF in a Dutch oven or deep pot.
- While the oil is heating, form the paste into meatball sized falafels. You should get around 30-35 of them. They may feel delicate at first but they will bind together when fried. Set aside until the oil reaches the frying temperature.
- When the oil reaches 375ºF, add as many falafels as you can to the oil without overcrowding them. Fry until they are completely golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Remove the falafels as they finish cooking. Repeat with remaining falafels. Serve immediately. Enjoy!