Homemade Falafel is a delicious and flavorful vegan and gluten free snack. Crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle, and full of fragrant herbs and spices. These bites can be pan fried, deep fried or baked. They are perfect on their own as a snack or appetizer, or in a pita topped with veggies.
THIS POST AND STEP-BY-STEP PHOTOS UPDATED MARCH 15, 2019
Chickpeas are an integral part of Indian, West Indian, and Mediterranean cuisines. My parents are from Trinidad, so I’ve been eating chickpeas all my life. One of my favorite recipes is Curry Chicken and Chickpeas, and it was one of the first recipes I learned to make before I moved out of my parents’ house.
Chicken Chickpea Salad is light and healthy, and my go-to recipe when I can’t decide what to make for lunch.
“WHAT THE HECK IS A CHICKPEA”?
The first time I posted a chickpea recipe on the blog, that was a question from my friend Slim. Chickpeas are legumes (beans). Garbanzo beans is another name, and the name you’ll usually find in the grocery store.
Kabuli chickpeas are the most commonly found chickpeas in American grocery stores, but there are also several other varieties. Chickpeas are very nutritious and are high in protein and fiber.
In my quest to expand my collection of chickpea recipes, I decided to dive WAY out of my comfort zone, and make Falafel. I’ve eaten it many times in restaurants but never made them at home.
The origins of this Middle Eastern snack depends on who you talk to. Many people say Egypt, while others say Israel. Regardless, it is delicious.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
- Falafel is gluten-free and vegan, so it’s perfect for a variety of dietary lifestyles
- They freeze really well, so make a big batch
- You can enjoy these as a snack, appetizer, or in pita sandwiches
INGREDIENT TIPS FOR HOMEMADE FALAFEL
Make sure you use dry chickpeas. Canned chickpeas are too soft, and the result will be a mushy texture and the Falafel won’t stay together.
Fresh garlic and onion, plus cilantro and parsley, add a punch of fresh flavor. And lemon zest brightens up the Falafel.
You can find dry chickpeas in the packaged rice and beans aisle at the grocery store. Stores that have a dry bulk food section will carry chickpeas in bulk as well.
I use a Food Processor to mix all of the ingredients together. If you’re making the full recipe, you will need to grind the mixture in 2 batches, depending on the size of your processor bowl
The mixture needs to be a fine grind. I run the food processor for 30-60 seconds, and it looks almost like a fine crumb paste.
To keep these vegan and gluten-free, I don’t use anything as a binder. And as long as you grind the mixture fine enough, you won’t need a binder.
I use a 1 5/8″ Scoop (large cookie scoop), and get 36 Falafel
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
Add dry chickpeas to a large bowl, and cover with cold water. After 24 hours, chickpeas will triple in size.
Add coriander seeds and cumin seed to a dry skillet, and toast over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat and grind finely.
Add drained chickpeas, garlic, onion, parsley, cilantro, coriander & cumin, salt, pepper, lemon zest and cayenne pepper to food processor. Process for 30-60 seconds, stopping occasionally to scrape down the side of the bowl. It should look almost like a fine crumb paste.
Form Falafel using a 1 5/8″ scoop.
COOKING METHODS FOR HOMEMADE FALAFEL
This all boils down to personal preference.
- Pan Fried: Add oil to a depth of about 1/3″ to a nonstick skillet. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown
- Deep Fried: Heat the oil to 365°. Carefully place Falafel into the fryer for about 4 minutes
- Baked: Flatten the Falafel about halfway, and spray both sides with cooking spray. Place Falafel on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake in 375° oven for about 15 minutes
Normally I eat Falafel by themselves, as a snack or an appetizer. Since I was in the zone, I also made Tzatziki Sauce. And absolutely loved it.
Another great option is to make Falafel sandwiches inside pita bread, topped with tomato, red onions, lettuce, and Tzatziki.
CAN YOU FREEZE FALAFEL?
Yes, you can! Form the balls, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and put in the freezer for about 4 hours, until frozen. Then store them in an airtight container.
TO COOK FROZEN FALAFEL: At least 12 hours before cooking, remove Falafel from the freezer and place it in the fridge. Once thawed, cook as normal.
MORE DELICIOUS CHICKPEA RECIPES
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- 2 cups dry chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
- 2 teaspoons whole coriander seed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, packed
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, packed
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Avocado or Canola oil, for frying
TZATZIKI SAUCE (optional, for dipping) (MAKES 1 CUP)
- 1 cup fat free Greek Yogurt
- 1/4 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and shredded
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons mint, minced
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
- SOAK CHICKPEAS FOR 24 HOURS: Place dry chickpeas in a large bowl, and add enough water to cover by about 1". Check after 12 hours, as you may need to add more water. When done, drain and set aside
- In a bowl, add Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint, and lemon juice. Stir to combine, and add salt & black pepper to taste. Set in fridge to rest
- Add cumin and coriander to dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toast spices for about 5 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to spice grinder and grind fine
- Add chickpeas, garlic, onion, parsley, cilantro, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper, lemon zest and cayenne pepper to food processor. You may need to do it in 2 batches, depending on the size of your processor bowl.
- Process mixture for 30-60 seconds, stopping occasionally to scrape down the side of the bowl. Once ground, the mixture should like almost like a fine crumb paste.
- Transfer mixture to large bowl. Using a 1 5/8" scoop, form Falafel. I also use my hands to lightly press the balls together. The full recipe yields 36 Falafel.
- Add oil to large skillet, about 1/3" up the side of the skillet, and heat to 365°. Carefully add Falafel to oil. Make sure to not crowd the pan, or they won't brown properly.
- Cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and immediately sprinkle with salt
Soak Dry Chickpeas for 24 hours in a large bowl of cold water, and the chickpeas will triple in size. Check chickpeas after 12 hours, as you may need to add more water
The mixture needs to be a fine grind, or the Falafel will not stay together. I run the food processor for 30-60 seconds
Use a cookie scoop to form the Falafel, so they're all the same size. I use a 1 5/8" Cookie Scoop, and get 36 Falafel with this recipe
Nutrition Information:Yield: 36 Serving Size: 36 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 42Sodium: 132mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g