Making Falafel

Patrick Mooney
making falafel

Making falafel is so simple that you will probably start making it for snacks as well as for special dinners.

It All Starts in Egypt

Falafel was first made in Egypt. The Egyptians used fava beans to make their falafel, but as the recipe spread to other cultures the recipe was altered to use chickpeas instead of fava beans. Nowadays, most recipes forgo the use of fava beans altogether because chickpeas are much easier to find.

If you want to use fava beans when making falafel, just use one cup of fava beans instead of the ¾ cup of chickpeas.

You can prepare your fava beans using this formula:

  • 1 cup of fava beans
  • 2 cups of water
  1. Heat the two cups of water and add the beans to it.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Let the beans soak overnight.
  4. Drain, remove the skins from the beans, and use as a replacement for the chickpeas in the following recipe.

Some people lack a specific enzyme needed to properly digest fava beans. This is called favism and can result in an anemic reaction. This is one of the reasons that chickpeas were used instead of fava beans since some people native to the Mediterranean area suffer from favism.

Making Falafel

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup of dried chickpeas
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Pita bread

Instructions

  1. Place the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with cold water.
  2. Let soak overnight.
  3. Drain the chickpeas and place into a pot.
  4. Cover with fresh water.
  5. Bring to a boil and boil for ten minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer the chickpeas for one hour, replenishing the water if need be.
  7. Simmer until soft and then drain and let them cool.
  8. Place the cooked chickpeas in your food processor along with the onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, coriander, and baking powder.
  9. Pulse until the mixture forms a paste.
  10. Taste for salt and pepper.
  11. Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and then squash slightly.
  12. In a deep (at least 2-inches deep) pan, heat enough oil to submerge the falafel balls.
  13. Heat the oil until it is hot enough to fry the falafel. You will know when the oil is hot enough when a small ball of falafel dropped into the oil sizzles and floats to the surface.
  14. Fry the falafel in small batches until golden brown.
  15. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  16. Serve warm in pita bread with lettuce.
  17. You can use hummus, tahini (thinned out with water and lemon juice), tzatziki, or cacik as dressing for the sandwich.
  18. This goes great with a Greek salad.

Tahini Sauce

Tahini comes in handy when making Mediterranean food. It is either blended into a dip, like when making hummus, or it is used as part of a sauce. When making falafel, people often use tahini as the sauce for their sandwich or as a dip if the falafel is being served as an appetizer.

Tahini is a very basic recipe. If you can't find tahini at the store or if you want to make it yourself, it is quite simple.

Tahini Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of sesame seeds
  • 1 ½ cups of olive oil (more may be needed)

Instructions

  1. Spread the sesame seeds out on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. The parchment paper will make it easier to collect the seeds once they have been heated.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Lightly cook the sesame seeds for about 7 minutes in the oven. You are trying to gently heat the seeds, not toast them, so try not to get any color on the seeds.
  4. Let the sesame seeds completely cool to room temperature.
  5. Place the sesame seeds into your food processor and, while processing, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the seeds.
  6. The tahini should be a little thicker than plain yogurt. You might have to use more oil to reach the proper consistency.
  7. Store covered in your refrigerator.

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Making Falafel