Homemade Falafel is delicious and so flavorful, full of fresh herbs and spices. Crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle, it’s perfect on its own as a snack or appetizer, or in a pita topped with veggies. Vegan and Gluten Free!
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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.
“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 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.
My current list of chickpea recipes on the blog is much too short. Chicken Chickpea Salad is one of my go-to lunch recipes. When I’m in the mood for savory, I make my Roasted Mushroom and Green Bean Farro Salad. I’m also obsessed with my Spicy Roasted Chickpeas, and they are the star of my Roasted Chickpea Spinach Salad.
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 have never tried to make them myself. 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.
I hit the jackpot! Crispy, golden brown exterior, soft inside, wonderful mix of flavors. I had no idea Falafel is so easy to make, and I kicked myself for waiting so long.
KEYS FOR PERFECT FALAFEL
- Use Dry Chickpeas. Canned chickpeas are too soft, and the result will be a mushy texture and the balls will fall apart
- Soak dry chickpeas for 24 hours in water, and the chickpeas will triple in size. Drain chickpeas before adding to food processor
- Use whole Cumin Seeds and Coriander Seeds. Toast the seeds first, and then grind them before adding to the food processor
- Use a Small Cookie Scoop to form the balls.
GETTING THE PERFECT TEXTURE FOR HOMEMADE FALAFEL
I’ve seen all kinds of tips and tricks to ensure the perfect Falafel texture.
- I mentioned this before, and it bears repeating…use dry chickpeas. If you use canned, the Falafel won’t stay together because cooked chickpeas are too soft
- The mixture needs to be a fine grind. I use a Food Processor, and process the mixture for at least 30 seconds. You will need to stop and scrape the sides of the food processor a couple of times. I’ve seen recommendations to use a Meat Grinder. I have not tried that method, and my food processor does the job really well
- The first time I made Falafel I added an egg, because the mixture didn’t hold together. The next time I tried flour. They both worked, but I was on a mission to keep it vegan…because I’ve never made anything vegan before. Once I got the fine grind, the result was perfect.
BEST COOKING METHOD FOR HOMEMADE FALAFEL
This all boils down to personal preference. I prefer pan fried, because it uses less oil than deep fried, and the results are identical. The down side to baked Falafel is that you don’t get the crunch and beautiful golden brown exterior.
- Pan Fried: I use a Nonstick Skillet; add oil to a depth of about 1″; and cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown
- Baked: Flatten the balls about halfway; spray both sides of balls with Cooking Spray; place on a foil lined Baking Sheet; bake in 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes
- Deep Fried. Heat the oil to 365°, and fry the balls for about 4 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. I make the sauce about 30 minutes ahead, so the flavors can develop. Another great option is to make Falafel sandwiches inside pita bread, topped with tomato, red onions, lettuce and Tzatziki.
Yes, I love these sandwiches!! Each pita half can hold 2 pieces, plus toppings.
This recipe makes A LOT of Falafel. The great thing is, they freeze really well. Once you form the balls, freeze them on a baking sheet and then store the balls in a Ziploc bag. No need to even thaw them before cooking. Just cook them for a couple more minutes.
I don’t think I need to tell you that I’m very excited to keep Falafel on my list of must-makes. They’re perfect as a snack, appetizer, and will definitely be a hit with a crowd.
- 2 cups dry chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
- 2 teaspoons whole coriander seed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 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
- 1 cup Fat free Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 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
Place chickpeas in large bowl, and add enough water to cover by 1". Soak chickpeas for 24 hours. Check after 12 hours, as you may need to add more water. Chickpeas should triple in size. After 24 hours, drain
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 all ingredients to food processor. You may need to do it in 2 batches. Process for at least 30 seconds, until the mixture is fully combined and ground fine. Test a small amount...when it forms a ball and holds together, it's ready to go
Transfer mixture to large bowl. Using small cookie scoop, form balls. I also use my hands to lightly press the balls together
Add oil to large skillet, about 1" up the side of the skillet, and heat to 365 degrees. Carefully add Falafel to oil. Make sure to not crowd the pan, or they won't brown properly. In a 12" skillet I can fit 7-8 at a time.
Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. When brown on both sides, remove and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt
Combine all ingredients except salt and pepper in bowl. I taste and add a little salt/pepper at a time, to get it to desired flavor.
Set in fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to serving