Falafel is a Mediterranean food that is all about contrasts. The blended chickpeas along with the ”full of character” herbs and the combination of spices make this dish exuberant and hearty.
Just imagine the taste of a crunchy chickpea ball mixed with aromatic herbs such as mint and parsley then spiced up with garlic and thyme. It is one of the delights that Mediterranean cuisine has given to the world.
What is falafel?
Falafel is a kind of deep-fried ball made of hydrated chickpeas and seasoned up with different kinds of herbs and spices such as parsley, onion, garlic, thyme, hot pepper, mint, and dill. This recipe is much appreciated and consumed especially in the Arabic parts of the world. Falafel is categorized as an appetizer, yet, it can be served as a main course. It makes a great meal when accompanied by a colorful portion of tabouleh, or a piece of pita with a creamy sauce.
Is falafel healthy?
Falafel is the perfect dish for a vegetarian or for those who try to reduce meat from their diet. It has a great nutritive consistency thanks to the chickpea which is a great source of vegetable protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B. Falafel, as you know, is rich in herbs, namely those are a great source of antioxidants. As a conclusion, eating falafel on a regular basis will maintain your blood sugar level and will keep your sugar cravings under control.
Ingredients for falafel
The falafel recipe is one of the simplest and healthiest appetizers of all time. It is made with simple ingredients that are easily found in any grocery store or at the local Sunday market. The deep-fried greenish balls are composed of the following list of ingredients:
- Chickpeas. For authentic falafel, for the one that simply explodes your senses, you need hydrated chickpeas. No boiled chickpeas, no canned – chickpeas by any means! To do so, leave the chickpeas overnight in a bowl with cold water. The small beans will soak in the water and will double in size. For the beans to become even softer, add a pinch of baking soda to the water. This little secret will make a big difference in the consistency of the balls. The chickpeas will become more velvety upon blending. That is exactly what you look for when preparing falafel.
- Onion. Yellow onion is much welcomed in the recipe. Also, you may use green/spring onion, which will add more intense color to the chickpea dough when blended.
- Garlic. What would Mediteranean meals be without garlic? This recipe makes no exception; garlic is also used, and it surely complements the taste.
- Chili pepper. Usually, green hot pepper is advised for the recipe, for the same coloring reason. However, I used a red chili pepper and I think it turned out great as well.
- Chickpeas flour. That is what the authentic recipe recommends because it will not change the specific flavor range. Nonetheless, you can use all-purpose flour, it will do no harm.
- Baking powder
Herbs for the falafel
- Parsley or cilantro, or both
- Mint. Yes, there’ll be a tasty bomb in your plate.
- Dill. However, if you don’t like it, you can skip it.
Spices for the falafel
- Ground pepper. I like to combine red, black and pepper, the aroma is more intense. If you like pepper as I do, don’t skip pepper.
- Salt. No need to comment on it.
How to make falafel?
First, have the chickpeas soaked in water overnight. When doubled in size, drain water and prepare the rest of the ingredients. Thoroughly wash the fresh herbs, then make sure to absorb the excess water with a paper towel. You can use a salad spinner, it will do the job.
Peel the garlic and the onion, cut into big pieces.
Remove the seeds from the chili pepper.
At this point get your food processor and put in the chickpeas, onion, garlic, chili pepper, the herbs, and the spices. Pulse the food processor until everything becomes one beautiful green mass. It will take about 1 minute, remember to scrape down the sides when needed. The mixture is rather dry, that’s why it will not go down to the blade by itself.
Pour everything in a large bowl and add the baking powder and the chickpeas flour. Mix everything by hand and proceed to make the balls.
How to make falafel balls?
As you can see in the picture, fill one tablespoon with aromatic chickpea dough and just roll in your hands. You can use an ice cream scoop, this will make it easier for you and the shapes will be unmistakeably equal and round. However, working the falafel mix with your hands is a special pleasure, it is bonding with what you create. One by one, place the ball on a sheet of baking paper. When done, put everything to fry in lots of vegetable oil at a very high temperature.
How to fry the falafel?
Use vegetable oil to fry the balls. Pour in the pan as much oil as to cover about half the ball. So that when you turn it upside-down, the ball is half fried, and you just get to cook the second half of the falafel boll. That is how I usually do it and it turns out great every time.
Cook the ball in hot oil until it becomes golden. The more you fry it, the crunchier it becomes. Do not overcook it, you will dry it out, It has to be crunchy in the outside yet smooth in the inside.
However, after doing this a few times, you will know the exact times, then you improve and improvise. When fried, take them out and place them on a piece of kitchen paper to soak in the excess oil.
How to serve falafel?
The falafel balls can be served in a pita with tahini or hummus. Or you can have that served with a fresh salad such as tabouleh or a salad with avocado and tomatoes. Falafel balls are greatly combined with diary sauces such as garlic-yogourt sauce or tzatziki.
Any fresh salad or sauce is a great choice to complement the beautifully delicious falafel. If you want to explore more chickpeas recipes, see the Mediterranean avocado and chickpeas salad and, of course, the all-time-favorite Lebanese hummus recipe.
Homemade Crispy Falafel Recipe
- frying pan
- 1 cup chickpeas dried
- 1/2 cup parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup mint chopped
- 1/2 cup dill chopped
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 chili pepper
- 2 tbsp chickpeas flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- Have the chickpeas soaked in water overnight
- Thoroughly wash the fresh herbs
- Peel the garlic and the onion, cut into big pieces.
- Remove the seeds from the chili pepper
- Take the food processor and put in the chickpeas, onion, garlic, chili pepper, the herbs, and the spices
- Pulse the food processor for 1 minute; scrape down the sides when needed
- Pour everything in a large bowl and add the baking powder and the chickpeas flour. Gently mix
- Fill one tablespoon with the mix and roll in your hands to form balls. Arrange on baking sheet
- Preheat oil in a large frying pan
- Put balls to fry for 3-4 minutes on medium heat flipping sides
- Take out and lay on paper towel to have the extra oil absorbed
- Serve with additional salad or sauce