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Falafel was originally made with fava beans only.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, but it is 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! You can find recipes for Hummus, Mechouia (Tunisian Roasted Vegetable Salad), Tahini sauce, amba sauce, pickles or Lebanese pickled turnip, Zhoug and Tunisian Harissa sauce to serve alongside here on TFD. The recipe for the Yemeni hawaij spice blend can be found here.
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