Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Chickpeas, aka Ceci or Garbanzo beans, are one of the earliest foods of the human diet. Falafel, its most popular preparation is vastly popular all over the Middle East. Besides being a wonderful meat replacement for vegetarians, falafel is just plain good groceries no matter how you use it; either as a delicious sandwich in pita bread or as a wonderful meatball substitute with tomato sauce.

Traditionally, falafel is made from ground-up, soaked, dry chickpeas. Falafel vendors selling this street food are ubiquitous in Egypt and Israel and plenty of other places nowadays. Even McDonalds, the hamburger chain, sells falafel in many places, where they are called “McFalafel”.

After cooking, the tasty falafel is put into pita bread with a cooling creamy sauce, or a tahini sauce. It is one very delicious sandwich.

Two things to ensure ease of preparation are:
  1. Be sure to soak the dried beans, covered with plenty of water, for 20-24 hours.
  2. Prior to shaping and cooking, thoroughly chill the falafel mixture for at least one hour.

Here is a traditional recipe I adapted from Tyler Florence.

FALAFEL                                                  serves 8


2 cups (500ml) dried chickpeas, picked through and rinsed
1 (5ml) teaspoon baking powder          
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed

 1 tablespoon (15ml) powdered cumin
 ½ tablespoon (7ml) powdered coriander
 ¼ teaspoon (1ml) red pepper flakes or to taste

 ½ cup (125ml) of fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
 ¼ cup (60ml) of fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped

 Salt and black pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying
8 warm pita breads cut in half.
Tahini sauce or a cucumber tzatziki sauce is real tasty
Shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped cucumbers


Put the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and add cool water to cover by 2 inches. Soak the beans in the refrigerator for between 20 to 24 hours. This soaking is important. Rinse and drain thoroughly.

Put the soaked chickpeas in a food processor and pulse to coarsely grind, with no whole chickpeas remaining.

Add the baking powder, onion, garlic, spices, and herbs; process until the mixture is pureed; scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and be sure to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Pour 3-4 inches of oil in a deep fryer or deep heavy pot and heat to 375 degrees F (190C). If using the pot, a thermometer is very useful.

Roll all the falafel mixture into balls 1 ½ inches in diameter. Carefully slip a few at a time into the hot oil, making sure they don't stick to the bottom. Fry until the fritters are a crusty dark brown on all sides, turning as needed, about 4-5 minutes per batch. Remove the falafels and drain on a rack or platter lined with paper towels.

Open the pita bread halves carefully to make pockets and put 4 fried falafels into each. Drizzle with the sauce and layer with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Serve immediately.

Tzatziki sauce:

2 cups (500ml) thick Greek-style yoghurt
2 cloves crushed garlic
½ (2ml) teaspoon salt
¼ (1ml) teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ (60ml) cup chopped fresh mint leaves or one tablespoon (15ml) dried
1 large cucumber - peeled, seeded and shredded

Combine all in a food processor and blend thoroughly. Let chill 30 minutes. If you choose to use this, prepare it just before you make the falafel.

Falafel is a very tasty food, and goes great in a pita pocket. Try it, you’ll like it.


Manzanita said...

Bring on the pita bread recipes. They have a love affair with busy Americans. This one sounds/looks especially delicious. Not only good for you but saves on dishes. Can't beat that.

Joanne said...

I love love love falafels! I will try this for sure!
Blessings, Joanne

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Hi Anthony, really good post about falafel, hope you're doing well!

Duncan In Kuantan

CaySera said...

wow....that looks yummy.....nice blog anthony...glad to be following you.....do stop by mine sometime..


anthony stemke said...

MANZANITA: You are so right. pita is very versatile, and minimizing dishes is great. Sometimes I see the sink so full like we had a dinner for twelve and it's just the two of us.

anthony stemke said...

JOANNE: Get ready for a delicious experience.

THE KUANTAN BLOGGER: Thank You Duncan, my best to you and the girls.

CAY SERA: Thank You for the compliments, I appreciate them.

My Journey With Candida said...

I love using pita bread... I am also a huge fan of Garbanzo beans so this recipe is right up my alley.

Sensible Vegetarian said...

Love falafel, looks fantastic. A very filling and healthy meal.

schmetterlingwords said...

Oh! I love these wonderful Falafel in pita pockets. Very well explained recipe which makes it sound so easy to make.

I wonder why I haven't seen McFalafel yet. :)

nutschell said...

Oh my gosh! I've always wondered how to make falafel. Thanks for sharing this, anthony!


The Golden Eagle said...

I really like chickpeas . . . I'll have to bookmark this post!

anthony stemke said...

MY JOURNEY: You will appreciate the ease of making this. btw- Today I gave my daughter some Tru Flora enzymes for her GERD after reading about it on your blog. If it works I will be extremely grateful.
Thank You.

anthony stemke said...

SENSIBLE VEGETARIAN: You're sure to love this. Thanks for calling.

SCHMETTERLING WORDS: Thank You for the kind words. McFalafel in Israel, maybe in Egypt too.

anthony stemke said...

NUTSCHELL: You are welcome.

THE GOLDEN EAGLE: You will love this falafel.

Sarah said...

i love felafel! being brought up in the middle east, i had a steady supply of felafels and shawarma at every street corner... this is making me really nostalgic... gotta try the tzatziki sauce with the felafel now :)

Vardhini said...

I recently tasted falafel and loved it. I will probably be playing around with a baked version sometime. These falafels look absolutely tempting.

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anthony stemke said...

SARAH: Thanks for calling, I don't know anyone who doesn't like falafel. I always use the cucumber sauce (tzatziki) with it.

VARDHINI: You're right, they are quite tempting. I thought about baking them myself. One batch I made in oven and it came out very well. Baked is lower in fat but frying is quicker and of course more traditional.
Thanks for commenting.

Malli said...

I am a huge fan of Tyler Florence too. That pita with falafel looks so aweome!!! It must taste sooooo gooooood:)

Leovi said...

They must be delicious falafels.

anthony stemke said...

MALLI: I would urge you to try it, it is spectacularly good.

LEOVI: Definately so.

aipi said...

I love falafels like everyone else especially because it has the familiar taste of spice suited to an Indian palate. You have made them perfectly, love how crisp it looks!

Miriam said...

What an awesome recipe! I've bought them so many times, it's about time that I make them :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

anthony stemke said...

AIPI: Yeah, the taste is wonderful. The first time I tasted them I enjoyed the "exotic" flavour. Thank You for the kind words.

MIRIAM: Even committed meat-eaters will love this. This is one of those dishes, like kasha http://gritsandgroceries.blogspot.com/2011/04/kasha-pilaf.html, that when I have it I wonder why I don't prepare it more often.

Jolene Perry said...

Sounds AH-mazing :D

Kalyan P said...

Falafel is one of my favorite dishes and just can have it any moment...just mouthwatering...the recipe looks so easy to prepare and delicious!

Torviewtoronto said...

the falafel looks flavourful lovely presentation in the pita filling meal

anthony stemke said...

JOLENE: Thank You,it is.

KALYAN: You're right, is not difficult at all and very delicious.

TORVIEW: Thank You is a thoroughly wonderful meal.

Pegasuslegend said...

Love this, never tried it you have me wanting some now and made it simple to understand to make thanks!

Anonymous said...

I've never had falafel ... I've always thought it was one of those words you could not say five times fast without laughing. No McFalafels out here, but if I ever see one I'll definitely try one.

LV said...

This is a great recipe. I love falafel and my favorite place to get falafel went out of business, so I definitely need to try this recipe. Looks really good.


anthony stemke said...

PEGASUS: Once you try it I'm sure you will love it.

STEPHEN: It is one of those words, but more than likely if you do not make it yourself you won't be able to enjoy it. Therefore I offer this gastronomic item for your gustatory consideration.

anthony stemke said...

LV: Thanks, you will love this falafel.

Uma said...

Till now I haven't tasted falafel. But before I start, I'll try from outside shops where you have mentioned. So that I can get to know the taste. BTW your falafel inside the pita is making me drool. love to grab one.

anthony stemke said...

UMA: You may not be able to get falafel in your area, neither can I; but I hope you will make this fabulous food. If you don't care to bother with the sauce you could use bottled "Ranch dressing" to start.
But falafel is "Droommy", which is a combination of droolworthy and yummy.
Thank You for calling, I always enjoy reading your posts

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe. I'll have to give it a try.

anthony stemke said...

SUSANNE: Thanks for calling, falafel makes a delightful sandwich.
Best wishes on the World of Ink tour.

Luv'n Spoonfuls said...

I love falafel but have never been brave enough to make my own. You've just inspired me!

anthony stemke said...

LUV'N SPOONFULS: It really isn't hard to make at all, you can do it and then you will make it often.

Kaveri said...

This looks really yummy. Have been wanting to try falafel for quite some time now...

Herbs & Flowers: Spring Onions

Alexis AKA MOM said...

I'm loving this! And Pita recipes are the BEST!

anthony stemke said...

KAVERI: Now you can, please give it a try it is delicious.

ALEXIS: Yeah, we love it too.

Uma said...

Thanks anthony stemke, for the recipe. I tried this but used storebought pita bread. It was good. Though I have not tasted them before I liked them.

anthony stemke said...

UMA: I am so happy to hear that you liked them, falafel is a great food to have on a regular basis.
Thank You.

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