Chickpea Falafel

falafel in pita

This Middle Eastern snack is also known as ta’amia. Falafel is a very popular food in the Arab East and is also very common in Israel, where it is regarded as a national food. Although falafel is made from chickpeas over here, in Lebanon it is usually made from dried fava beans, with a handful of dried chickpeas sometimes thrown in. Favas have a wonderful flavour, but if you can't find them, dried white beans, such as cannellini or navy, can be substituted.

Street vendors usually tuck falafel into pita bread with chopped lettuce and tomato and plenty of tahini sauce.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz (225g) chick peas
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 slice of white bread, soaked in a little water
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. coriander, ground
  • 1 tsp. cumin, ground
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • oil for frying

Preparation:

Soak the chick peas overnight.

Cover with plenty of fresh water and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until tender.

Pound or blend the chick peas to a purée.

Squeeze out the bread and add to the chick peas together with the rest of the ingredients. Knead well for a few minutes.

Let the mixture rest for 1-2 hours, then roll between the palms into firm 1” balls. (Wetted hands make this easier).

Heat oil (at least 1 inch deep) in a pan to about 360° F, 180°C, and fry the balls, a few at a time, until nicely brown all over — about 2-3 minutes.

Drain and serve hot with lemon wedges.

Topping variations:

There is more than one way to stuff a pita with falafel. Hummus, if used, is typically spread on the pita along with any chili sauce. Falafel and salads are then added. Salads range from a simple tomato-and-cucumber mix to pickled eggplants. In Syria and Lebanon, the typical filling is tahini or hummus (or both), tomato, lettuce, cabbage, pickles and lemon slices. In Israel, Lebanon, and the UAE, french fries are a frequent addition.

Once the entire pita has been packed, tahini (possibly with lemon) or yoghurt sauces may be added. In Israel yogurt is a rare offering; more often seen is amba, a mango paste.

The salads or the pita itself may be seasoned with sumac or salt; alternatively, these may be applied to the top. In Syria, sumac is practically a universal accompaniment to falafel, whether in a sandwich or otherwise.