Monday, March 23, 2015

Homemade Falafel

Homemade Falafel Burgers
Falafel is a national dish in Israel. It was always a traditional Arab food and still is in Egypt and other Arab countries but there it is more likely to be made from fava beans. In Israel they use chickpeas. Yemenite Jewish immigrants started the tradition of stuffing the falafel into a pitta pocket (or wrapping it in a bigger laffa) with salad humus, pickles and chips. 

This portable snack can be picked up on the streets in Israel the way you pick up a hot dog in NYC or a slice of pizza. It is the Israeli equivalent to the UK's fish and chips and you'll find several falafel shops along every high street here.

I have a big jar of dried chickpeas
The traditional Israeli falafel is dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and ground (processed today) and mixed with onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, salt & pepper, and a bit of flour to assist the binding. The resulting paste is then rolled into balls and fried. No eggs, this is totally vegan. With the pitta and salad it's a whole vegan meal.

The first time I tried making it I made the mistake of cooking the chickpeas before I made the falafel paste. This is totally unnecessary unless you prefer a more mashed-potato type consistancy to your falafel.

In recent years 'designer' falafel has emerged - curry flavour, green (more green herbs), lemon-garlic, sweet and sour, hot and spicey... You can add anything you like. I like to put some tehina paste in mine because my food processor isn't strong enough to really grind the chickpeas so the tehina gives it a bit more moisture.

In the pan
People don't tend to make their own falafel as it's so easy and cheap to buy. However I was tempted by a big bag of powdered falafel mix in the supermarket (just add water) before I opted for the dried chick peas.

I also opted to make bigger, burger sized, falafel rather than the more commonly sized balls. That way I'm more likely to eat them on a plate with my salad than with the unnecessary pitta. And I find I eat less when they are bigger. I could easily eat 7 - 8 small falafel balls whereas I'll only have two falafel burgers that are the size of about three balls. And you can't just pop one extra into your mouth every time you pass the plate.

You can google falafel recipes if you need exact amounts but I prefer to be creative and add whatever I have to hand.


  1. Sounds lovely and relatively healthy too! I actually wouldn't mind giving it a go.....

    1. Try it and let e know how it goes. Google a proper recipe though as my vague instructions are insufficient.

  2. It sounds lovely

  3. I love falafel and wish it was more available here. It tends to come in a sandwich which makes it too heavy - would love to grab it on the street!

    1. The falafel in pitta with salad, other vegetables, and topped with a few chips is a day's worth of calories so don't be too disappointed about not having to hand. Make it yourself and serve with salad for a healthier meal.