Falafel

Clearly the muse of cooking (there’s one of those, right? ;)) was holding a grudge against me as she did not inspire me to make falafel until this week. I haven’t been this excited about something I’ve made in a long time. They’re like falafel you could get at a restaurant. Except I made them. :)

As this was my first attempt, I did recipe research. This recipe is a hybrid between Tyler Florence’s version and the falafel recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Of note: Falafel are not made with cooked beans. Who knew? And in many places they are made with fava beans instead of chickpeas. (Ah, the internet–I’m an expert already.) Although the beans are not cooked, they are soaked, so you need to plan ahead.

I didn’t want to mess with deep frying. (Too much oil, and I was a little leery after reading that many people had difficulties.) I pan-fried half and baked the other half.

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, picked through
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup of fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup za’atar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl or pot and cover with cool water. Soak for 18 to 24 hours. Dump and replace the water a couple times during that period. The beans should double to triple in size.
  2. When beans are ready, drain off the water. Place the beans plus the rest of the ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until mixture is coarsely ground, but not pureed. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  3. Chill mixture in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

To Bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large cookie sheet.
  2. Remove chilled chickpea mixture from the refrigerator. Form into patties/balls and place on cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for around 20 minutes, until heated all the way through.
  4. Remove and serve.

To Pan-Fry:

  1. Remove chilled chickpea mixture from the refrigerator. Form into patties/balls. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Once oil is shimmering, gently place falafel in the skillet. Allow falafel to cook for a few minutes, until brown on the bottom. Flip and cook a few minutes more. Repeat until all falafel have been fried. Serve.

(Makes about 30 falafel)

The ground chickpea mixture is not very sticky. You will be thinking “there’s no way this is going to work, these are going to fall apart” the whole time you’re trying to form the patties. Just handle them gently and try not to sweat it.

About za’atar: It’s complicated. It’s used to refer to certain herbs, but also used to refer to herb mixtures made out of those herbs. It’s one of those things where everyone has their own way of making it. The mix I have includes sesame seeds, sumac, oregano, thyme and savory. (Which I got from my awesome sister-in-law who sent me an “esoteric grab bag of spices” a while back, thanks lady!) You can try to find those things, or try and find a za’atar mix, or skip it completely and go for more typical falafel seasoning of coriander and cumin.

Have all your accompaniments ready. You want to eat the falafel while they’re hot. I made a salad out of diced cucumber, red bell pepper and red onion. I also made a lemon-tahini sauce using almost-equal parts tahini, lemon juice and plain yogurt (a little more tahini and lemon, a little less yogurt). Thin with a little water and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Both cooking  methods worked just fine. And they both were tasty. With pan-frying the trick is to let the falafel sit once they hit the pan so that they form a nice crust that holds them together.

With baking, there aren’t really any tricks. The baked version had less browning. When I make them again I’ll probably pan-fry them all. (Oh how I love you Maillard reaction.) But if you’re more health concerned, baking is probably for you.

I’m also sharing this recipe in My Legume Love Affair hosted over at Desi Soccer Mom this month. It’s also making appearances in Full Plate Thursday, Real Food Weekly and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Looking for More Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes?

I recommend The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen, by Donna Klein.

What you'll find:
  • More than 200 tasty recipes,
  • Numerous tips for succesful gluten-free cooking and baking, and
  • Nutritional information (calories, grams of protein, fat, carbs, etc.) for every recipe.

Comments

  1. YOU ROCK!! This recipe looks amazing.

    THANK YOU!!

  2. These look divine, Kalinda. I am going to try them this week! :)

  3. Falafel sounds interesting again! Thanks for your research and pictures…and for putting this description together the way you have.

  4. Oh, how I wish chickpeas loved me as much as I love them. Especially in falafel. This looks so good.

  5. @Jane, Tressa, and Pat: thank you!

    @Alta: is it possible you could try with fava beans?

  6. Hi Kalinda,
    Out of sight!! Your Falafel looks delicious and your photo tutorial will help me when I make it. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you next week!

  7. Great recipe. I baked them all. A little dry but delicious. Served it with chilled homemade hummus

  8. Thanks Marta, maybe I’ll give them another go to see what I can do to make them a bit more moist.

  9. I have some of these frying in the pan now….. YUMMO!

    I did have some sticking-together problems. I was patient and I handled them carefully… and they said F YOU! ;)

    I added about 1/4 cup gluten free flour and some olive oil and they turned out PERFECTLY! Wonderful taste, will make again! Thank you! :)

  10. Awesome, the olive oil and flour sound like a good way to make them fluffier.

  11. New to this whole thing…so chickpeas you buy in a can? or is there some other way to buy them…just in bulk and then soak?

    • For this recipe you use dried chickpeas. You might be able to find them in bulk. I’d look where your grocery store sells other dry beans. (Try near the canned beans, or maybe by other dry goods like pasta.) And yes, then you do an overnight soak to rehydrate them.

      I would not use canned chickpeas because they’ll have more liquid and you’d have to add something like breadcrumbs or flour to be able to form patties. There are plenty of falafel recipes using canned chickpeas to be found online if that seems easier to you.

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