It's Easy to Make Falafel From Scratch

Food     by Rita Tarnate     Oct 19, 2020

Falafel sandwich with bowls of falafel and tomato cucumber salad

Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Level: Easy
Resting time: Overnight soak
Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 30 mins
Makes ~30 mini falafel balls
Serves 6-8

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!

Ingredients for making falafel

Crispy, Bite-Sized Falafel

Adapted from smittenkitchen.com

Ingredients

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

Notes

  • 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.

Directions

The night before

  1. Place the chickpeas and a few dashes of salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add enough water to cover the chickpeas, leaving a few inches of water at the top.
  3. Let it soak, uncovered, in the fridge overnight.

The day of

  1. Drain the chickpeas 1 hour before cooking.
  2. Place the onions, garlic, and herbs in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Heat oil to 375º. Place a wooden spoon in the oil. If bubbles form around it, your oil is hot enough for frying.
  6. Using a 1” cookie scoop, gently drop balls of mixture into the oil. Leave enough room to turn each falafel ball.
  7. Fry until medium brown (like a meatball) and flip to brown the other side, about 3 minutes total.
  8. Place fried falafel balls on paper towels or a cooling rack and repeat until the mixture is gone.
  9. Serve with warm pita and your choice of sides and sauces.

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