Falafel Image Used Under Creative Commons License From foodpeoplewant.com
Citizens, Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. It is also the ultimate combination and usage of several TFD recipes, all combined in one deliciously savory package!
Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, commonly served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa; “falafel” also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way.
The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze tray (assortment of appetizers).
Falafel is a common dish eaten throughout the Middle East. The fritters are now found around the world as a famous form of street food.
A Coptic origin for the name falafel has recently been proposed via the phrase “pha la phel” (Φα Λα Φελ), meaning “of many beans”.
A common theory now suggests falafel was invented some 1000 years ago by the Egyptian Copts. They took it with them when they moved throughout the rest of the Middle East.
Falafel was originally made with fava beans only. When the dish was used more to the north, chickpeas were more common, so they were used instead. The chickpea was used as a food item throughout the Levant before 4000 BC.
The Arabic word falāfil has been globalized into many other languages and spread around the rest of the world as the general name for this food. In English, it is first attested in 1941.
Falafel grew to become a common form of street food or fast food throughout the Middle East. During Ramadan, falafel balls are sometimes eaten as part of the iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast after sunset.
Falafel became so popular that McDonald’s for a time served a “McFalafel” in some countries! Falafel is still popular with the Copts, who cook large volumes during religious holidays.
Falafel plays an iconic role in Israeli cuisine and is widely considered to be the national dish of the country. While falafel is not a specifically Jewish dish, it was eaten by Mizrahi Jews in their countries of origin.
Later, it was adopted by early Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Due to its being entirely plant based, it is considered pareve under Jewish dietary laws and gained acceptance with Jews because it could be eaten with meat or dairy meals.
Falafel and its role in national patriotism is a very touchy subject in the Middle East. TFD prefers to take the opinion and hope that falafel can be a unifying recipe for all of the Middle East, enjoyed by all equally! 🙂
My version of falafel is heavily spiced and uses only chickpeas – it is particularly delicious when served with its recommended accompaniments and well worthy of your prompt consideration, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
250g (8 ounces) dried chickpeas
1 litre (slightly more than a quart) water
45-60ml (3-4 tbsp) bulgur wheat
1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed
75ml (5 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley
75ml (5 tbsp) chopped fresh cilantro
45ml (3 tbsp) ground cumin
15ml (1 tbsp) ground coriander seed
5ml (1 tsp) baking powder
5ml (1 tsp) salt
small pinch black pepper
small pinch Aleppo pepper
5ml (1 tsp) Yemenite Hawaij spice mix (strongly preferred) or curry powder – add a pinch of cardamom seeds to either version
45-60ml gram flour (3-4 tbsp) (Besan, also known as gram flour, is flour made from “channa” or yellow dried chickpeas. It is readily available in Indian and Asian markets).
peanut oil for deep frying
⅔ cup (150g) tahini paste
½ cup (120ml) water
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 clove garlic, crushed or microplaned
¼ teaspoon salt
Place the drained chickpeas, ground spices, garlic, onion, cilantro, and parsley into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine then feed through a meat grinder (preferred) or a food processor in small batches until everything has been ground.
Go slowly — you’re looking for a somewhat coarse paste that is moist enough to hold together, but not so moist that it clumps up into a Play-Doh texture.
Those little pebbles of chickpeas are what give the final falafel texture. Try pinching some of the mixture together. It should sort of stick together, but it shouldn’t actually be sticky.
Add in the bulgur wheat, lemon zest and baking powder. Stir in 3 tablespoons water and leave it to stand for about 45 minutes.
Stir the gram flour into the falafel batter, adding a little water if it is too thick or a little crumbled wholemeal bread or flour if it is too thin.
Roll a small amount of the mixture into a walnut sized ball or a small patty with your hands. The mixture should hold together nicely and not fall apart.
Using a wet tablespoon and wet hands, shape heaped tablespoons of the falafel mixture into 12-18 balls.
Combine all the ingredients for the tahini sauce and let rest in the refrigerator.
Heat the oil for deep-frying in a pan until it is hot enough to brown a cube of bread in 30 seconds (about 375 degrees Fahrenheit). Lower the heat.
Add the falafel to the hot oil in batches and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Remove the cooked falafel with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper before adding more to the oil.
Monitor the temperature of the oil and adjust the heat as needed to keep it between 350 and 375 degrees.
Serve the freshly cooked falafel tucked into warmed pita bread with a spoonful of hummus, mechouia and a drizzle of tahini (or try Greek tzatziki sauce as an unorthodox but delicious alternative).
Accompany with additional Harissa and zhoug, pickles, olives and salads.
If you wish to prepare the falafel ahead of time, undercook them, then arrange them on a baking sheet and finish cooking them in the oven at 375ºF/190 Celsius for about 10 minutes.