It's Easy to Make Falafel From Scratch
Food • by Rita Tarnate • Oct 19, 2020
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Resting time: Overnight soak
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Makes ~30 mini falafel balls
I never craved falafel until I had the falafel sandwich from L’as du Fallafel in Paris. Back in New York, Mamoun’s hit the spot, but when I lived in Chicago, I couldn’t find anything comparable. By the time I moved to Denver, falafel was a distant memory until my husband decided to try Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.
We’re hooked! It’s surprisingly easy to make and so versatile, you can eat this all-year-round. For a cool, summer sandwich, just add fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and crisp lettuce. During cold-weather months, serve it with yellow rice and roasted veggies for a heartier plate. Chickpeas are also rich in fiber and protein so, if you’re looking for ways to mix up your child’s meals, this is a great alternative to chicken nuggets.
My daughter likes to play a game of “who can make the loudest crunch.” She’ll eat about 2 falafel balls, trying to out-crunch us, before switching to pita and hummus – win!
Crispy, Bite-Sized Falafel
½ pound dried chickpeas
½ large onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup or 1 big handful fresh parsley
¼ cup or 1 big handful fresh cilantro (optional)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Oil for frying
- This recipe is just for the falafel balls. It’s typically served with pita, hummus, diced tomatoes and cucumbers, and tahini or tzatziki sauce.
- For smaller food processors, divide the ingredients in half and process everything in 2 batches.
- Frying produces the best crunch, but these can also be baked or air-fried.
- This doesn’t require a lot of oil. You can get by with about ¾” in the pan.
The night before
- Place the chickpeas and a few dashes of salt in a large bowl.
- Add enough water to cover the chickpeas, leaving a few inches of water at the top.
- Let it soak, uncovered, in the fridge overnight.
The day of
- Drain the chickpeas 1 hour before cooking.
- Place the onions, garlic, and herbs in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Add the drained chickpeas, salt, and spices, and pulse until finely chopped, not puréed. The mixture should look like cooked couscous and be dense enough to shape.
- Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover, and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This thickens the mixture for easy forming. You can use this time to prep your frying station and sides.
- Heat oil to 375º. Place a wooden spoon in the oil. If bubbles form around it, your oil is hot enough for frying.
- Using a 1” cookie scoop, gently drop balls of mixture into the oil. Leave enough room to turn each falafel ball.
- Fry until medium brown (like a meatball) and flip to brown the other side, about 3 minutes total.
- Place fried falafel balls on paper towels or a cooling rack and repeat until the mixture is gone.
- Serve with warm pita and your choice of sides and sauces.