Until recently I had never made falafel from scratch. For some reason I thought it was extremely complicated, fiddly and time-consuming, with only mediocre results, but I’m happy to report that I was entirely incorrect. Once I started experimenting, I discovered that it’s really quite easy, and the taste is infinitely better than the packet-mix ones.

The main thing I discovered during my research and experimentation phase is that you need to use raw chickpeas, not cooked or canned. Using canned chickpeas makes them taste like mushy fried hummus balls instead of crispy, light falafel.

I also used to look at the long ingredient list on some falafel recipes and feel overwhelmed. I’ve found that using a variety of herbs and spices is definitely necessary, but the process is extremely simple. It all goes into the food processor and gets pulsed together. That’s it. No need to crush your garlic or dice your onion. Just dump it all in. Like this:

Until it looks like this:

Stick it in the fridge for an hour, and roll it into balls:

Fry until crispy and brown on the outside, and fully cooked on the inside:

Mmm . . . just look at those delicious, crispy bundles of Israeli, falafely goodness!

Falafel is usually served in a warm pita, or on a plate, with your preferred condiments. My “go-to” accompaniments are hummus, tahini, pickles and Israeli salad. In a pita, of course!

Falafel Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups dried chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 small onion, cut into quarters (or half a larger onion)
  • 3–4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Falafel Directions:

  1. Place the chickpeas in a bowl or container and cover with water. The water should be a couple of inches higher than the chickpeas, because they will expand while soaking. Soak the chickpeas overnight, or for at least 3–4 hours. When ready, drain and rinse well.
  2. Pour the chickpeas into the food processor, with all the other ingredients (except the oil). Pulse until mixture resembles a coarse crumb. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
  3. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. Gently roll the mixture into balls. If it feels a little crumbly, apply some pressure while rolling, to help the balls come together. If the mixture is too crumbly and you cannot get it to stick together at all, you may need to return it to the food processor and pulse a few more times. But you don’t want the mixture to be too dense. It should not feel like meatballs or matzah balls. It should feel light and delicate, but able to hold its shape.
  5. Pour oil into a pot or frying pan, about 1½ inches deep. Heat the oil over a medium-high flame until ready. To test if the oil is ready, drop in a small piece of the mixture. If the oil bubbles and the mixture floats, the oil is ready and you can begin frying your falafel balls. Fry the balls for 2–3 minutes on the first side, then gently flip them and fry for another 1–2 minutes. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot/pan. I like to fry them in batches of 6–8. When the falafel balls are fully cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towel, to help soak up the excess oil so they don’t get soggy.
  6. Serve with your choice of accompaniments, such as hummus, tahini, Israeli salad and pickles. Many people enjoy eating the falafel and condiments inside a warm, soft pita.

Yields: Approximately 30 falafel balls

Recipe is based on Tori Avey’s recipe, with a few tweaks.