Falafel is said to have originated in Egypt, from the days of the Pharaohs were it then migrated throughout the Middle East. In the UK, they are better known for being made with chickpeas but can be made with broad beans (fava beans) or both. They are fast becoming a popular replacement for meat amongst the vegetarian and vegan communities, possibly because of their nutritional value but most likely because they are full of flavour.
The traditional way to eat them is wrapped in a pita bread with salad and spicy sauces but they can also be eaten flattened like burgers or just plain balls served with a tahini based sauce for dipping.
In the 1950’s, Yemenite immigrants turned falafel into a popular street food in Israel and particularly, North America.
This recipe was inspired by a recipe in a cookery book; easy vegan. I bought mine in The Works (UK) and it was much cheaper than the site recommendations.
Canned chickpeas (garbanzo) can be used in place of the dried but they tend to produce a ‘claggy’ texture.
- 250g (1¼ cups) dried chickpeas/garbanzo (soaked in water for 24 hours)
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 tsps ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
- ½ tsp bicarb of soda/baking soda
- 2 spring onions/scallions, finely chopped
- 3 tblsps chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tblsps chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Soak the chickpeas in cold water for 24 hours. They will expand so make sure that there is plenty of water.
- Drain them, then dry them well in a clean tea towel
- Transfer to a food processor adding the garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, and bicarbs/baking soda. Blend to required consistency. The book recommends blending until smooth but I like a bit of texture so blend until slightly lumpy. Season to taste
- Tip into a bowl and allow to rest for 30 minutes
- Add the spring onions/scallions, lemon zest, parsley and fresh coriander/cilantro and beat well
- Knead the mixture to bring it together
- Scoop out small amounts and make it into balls or flat burger shapes (the size is your choice), and place them on a baking tray
- Cover and chill for 15 minutes
- Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan to 190°C/375°F or until a cube of bread turns brown in 30 seconds
- Cook in batches for 2-3 minutes until they are golden brown. Lift out and drain on absorbent kitchen paper or a clean, thick tea towel