What’s the first thing you think of when I say Arabic food? Chances are, falafel and hummus are in the mix. Nowadays we can add shawarma, tabouleh and kebab to the list. The West is becoming more adventurous when trying Middle Eastern cuisine. But falafel remains an old standard as a savory, cheap, semi-healthy, vegetarian snack.
This is how it works. Simple ingredients are ground together- chickpeas, garlic, onion, parsley and spices. A deep fryer on hand roasts the little balls of goodness to a golden brown. Then comes the sandwich- a cut pita and various salad accouterments—beats, roasted cauliflower, salads, sauces, all topped with tahini.
Falafel’s origins point to Egypt, where falafel is called “taamiya”. In Egypt, falafel has less parsley than the Palestinian variety and has shredded carrot. In Palestine/Israel/Jordan/, the greener the stuffing is, the better quality it is considered. In nice restaurants falafel is crusted with sesame seeds—it tastes amazing.
In big cities in North America and Europe falafel and shawarma stands are ubiquitous and a cheap alternative to hotdogs and pizza. In the Middle East you can have great falafel for 50 cents! Try making it yourself, it’s easy, and you call the shots on flavor and oil content. Homemade falafel is a tasty, healthy lunch alternative. Falafel Fa’Life.
Home Style Baked Falafel فلافل
Note: This recipe will not produce falafel of the fried quality that one buys in a stand. It is a healthier no-fry version that is easy to make.
- 1 can of chickpeas (540 ml or 19 oz)
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon bread crumbs
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Toast the sesame seeds on a small pan for a couple of minutes until golden. Let them cool.
- Place chickpeas in food process and pulse a few times.
- Add onion, garlic, parsley, spices, baking powder and lemon juice and process until pureed.
- Dump mixture into a large bowl and stir in the flour, breadcrumbs and egg. The mixture should mix together, not too dry or wet.
- Shape the mixture into either little round balls or large patties, depending on preference.
- Sprinkle olive oil on a baking sheet. Dip the balls/patties in the sesame seeds, then lightly coat with olive oil. Place on baking sheet.
- Bake about 30 minutes, flipping the falafel half-way, until they are browned and crispy.
- Serve in pita bread sandwiches with pickles and tomatoes, or make your own creative complements. Drizzle with tahini.