Falafels are tasty balls of chickpea and herb delight found in Middle Eastern cuisine. Falafel is naturally vegan and vegetarian and goes well with wraps, pitas, sandwiches, and salads. Today, I'll show you how to prepare both fried and baked falafel. You get to pick your fave!
WHAT IS FALAFEL?
Falafel is traditionally cooked using ground chickpeas or fava beans, herbs, and spices. The mixture is then molded into balls or patties and deep fried for a crunchy on-the-surface and soft-on-the-inside texture similar to a fritter. It's a traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dish that's popular as street food and is frequently served as part of a mezze platter (a group of small meals).
Falafel is naturally gluten-free and cooked with only a few ingredients.
- Green chile Pepper
- Cumin, Cardamom, Salt, and Black Pepper
- Chickpea Flour
- Baking Soda
- Oil for frying
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST FALAFEL
Let's divide this into two parts: preparing the dough and cooking (so you can choose your preferred cooking method).
HOW TO MAKE THE DOUGH MIXTURE
- Soak your dry chickpeas overnight. Overnight or at least for 8-12 hours. Keep in mind that the chickpeas will treble in size, so give them plenty of water. After that, drain and rinse them.
- In a food processor, put all of the ingredients. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, green pepper, and spices. Before adding the onion, herbs, and pepper, I recommend roughly cutting them. Pulse the food processor but do not totally combine it. The finished product should resemble gritty sand.
- Place the mixture in a bowl. Next whisk in the chickpea flour and baking soda until well blended, then cover with plastic wrap or a lid.
- Put the bowl in the refrigerator. Let the falafel mixture to chill for 30 minutes.
- Shape falafel by hand, with a cookie scoop (as I do), or with a falafel scoop.
HOW TO COOK FALAFEL – 3 DIFFERENT WAYS
Deep Fry Falafel
In a saucepan, heat approximately 3 inches of oil (I use avocado oil) over medium heat to 350F. After the oil has reached the desired temperature, put 6-8 balls into it at a time. Let sit for 1-2 minutes, or until golden on the outside.
Pan Fry Falafel
On a medium-high-heat pan (I use cast iron), heat a few tablespoons of oil. Place the falafel in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden, then transfer to a paper towel-lined dish.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush or lightly spray a baking sheet with oil. Put the falafel on a baking sheet, gently spritz or brush with oil on the top side, and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. You may alternatively bake them without oil on parchment paper or a silicone mat.
HOW TO SERVE FALAFEL
Falafel are best served warm and crispy, so serve them right away. They're great in gluten-free pita, wrapped in lettuce or collard greens, or topped with a simple green salad (my preferred method). So, no matter how you serve them, don't forget to sprinkle with Tahini Sauce. It’s a creamy and tasty necessity!
MOST DELICIOUS FALAFEL RECIPE (FRIED OR BAKED)
- Cookie Scoop For round falafel balls.
- Falafel Scoop For disc-shaped falafel.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (don't use canned chickpeas)
- ½ cup roughly chopped onion
- 1 cup roughly chopped parsley, about a one large bunch
- 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, about a one large bunch
- 1 small green chile pepper, serrano or jalapeno pepper
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (or other flour)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- oil for frying
- The night before, soak the dried chickpeas in water. Make sure the water covers the chickpeas by 2 to 3 inches, as they'll triple in size.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to your food processor, along with the onion, parsley, cilantro, pepper, garlic, cumin, salt, cardamom and black pepper.
- Pulse the food processor several times until the mixture resembles the texture of coarse sand.
- Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl and add the chickpea flour and baking soda. Stir together, then cover or add a lid and refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to one hour.
- Use your hands, an ice cream scoop or falafel scoop to form the falafel into balls or patties. If you find the mixture is too wet, you can add another tablespoon of chickpea flour. If it's too dry and crumbly, you can add a teaspoon or two of water or lemon juice.
- Once the falafel are formed, you can cook them by your preferred method mentioned above. To deep fry the falafel, add about 3 inches of oil to a pot on medium heat. Heat the oil to 350°F (175°C). Cook the falafel in batches (about 6 to 8 at a time) for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden.
- Use a skimmer to check the color of the falafel and make sure they don't over cook. Then remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Serve the falafel immediately, while warm and crispy on the outside. They're delicious served with tahini sauce as well.
- Falafel are best golden on the outside, not charred. Make sure your oil doesn’t get too hot. If it does, the outside will cook too fast before the inside can warm up.
- The falafel should not break apart while cooking. They’re slightly fragile, but should certainly hold together and retain their shape. If they don’t, see my tip above about adding more flour or water.
- Can you meal prep falafel? Yes! Make the dough mixture and then freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw the mixture in the fridge, stir it, then form in balls or patties and cook. Alternatively, you can freeze pre-shaped raw falafel and fry or bake straight from frozen!
- 1 cup of dried chickpeas = 3 cups of soaked chickpeas