Falafel falafel! You have been requesting a great falafel recipe from us and we don't like to disappoint.
Though we will admit we buy our falafel most of the time from special Middle Eastern shops here in London (6 for £1.20 that's a bargain!) it is still nice to make them once in a while and with a food processor it literally takes ten minutes to bring it all together.
In Lebanon the best falafel I have ever tasted were from this shop in Saida known 'Abou Rami'. They are so perfect they make you emotional.
Each element of the falafel sandwich is just right. The tomatoes, the pickles and the tahini sauce. I also love the little bit of extra hot sauce but not too much.
If you ever pass by in Saida make sure you stop by and grab a falafel wrap... and get one for me too.
Do I have to soak the beans overnight?
Ok so you have to soak the peeled fava beans and chickpeas the night before but that takes two minutes the night before.
I don't know why people develop a mental block to a recipe when you tell them to soak some beans the night before it really is as easy as putting some beans in water and adding a spoon of bicarbonate of soda.
For real people get your priorities straight.
What is the ratio of chickpeas to fava beans?
Now for the big falafel debate. Should you use chickpeas or fava beans or both. The Palestinians like to use chick peas and the Egyptians prefer to to just use fava beans (foul).
The Lebanese traditionally use both. Then we must consider how much chickpeas to fava beans ratio? Some people use more of one and we tested them several times using different blends and found that half half ratio was the best.
What fresh herbs and spices do I need?
Falafel relies on fresh herbs for that nice green colour. We found using double the amount of parsley to cilantro (coriander) was best.
You can buy 'falafel' spices ready blended in Middle Eastern shops but we have given you the basic mix, which includes cumin, black and red pepper, chilli powder, coriander and seven spice.
I actually prefer to add my own spices as sometimes the ready made spice mixes are too strong and you can't control the amount of each spice. You can find the full recipe for seven spice here.
How can I get my falafel to puff up?
The bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda as you might call it in the US) is responsible for the round puffy shape of the falafel.
It is important to balance how much bicarbonate of soda you add in the actual falafel. If you don't use enough they will not puff up. If you use too much you will taste it and it will hurt your tummy later.
That's the test of a great falafel.
Do I need special equipment?
If you have a falafel scooper your life will be much easier but we couldn't find ours so we just rolled them into balls and dipped them in sesame seeds just before deep frying.
Can I bake falafel?
Not really. They won't have the same crunchy texture and though I have seen some recipes for baked falafel they look a bit stodgy to me.
You will have to deep fry them as you don't want them sticking to the pan or they will crumble, which might be the case if you shallow fry them.
How should I serve falafel?
Enjoy with some tahini sauce mixed with lemon and salt and a few pickles (the pink ones if you have them) and fresh vegetables (sliced tomatoes, mint parsley) and wrap in soft fresh flatbreads.
You can also add fried cauliflower and aubergine slices to make them more substantial.
Falafel- the Middle East's greatest gift to the world. You're very welcome. 😜
Lebanese Falafel Recipe
Traditional homemade falafel recipe using chickpeas and fava beans
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1 cup peeled dried fava beans
- 3 tspns bicarbonate of soda
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small onion
- 2 handfuls parsley
- 1 handful fresh cilantro coriander
- 1 tsp 7 spice
- 1 tsp dried coriander
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- Sesame seeds for dipping
- Enough vegetable oil for deep frying
Soak the chickpeas and peeled fava beans in separate large bowls the night before in enough water to cover. Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate to each bowl and mix well
The next day, rinse the beans in clear running water and set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas and fava beans in batches until you have a medium coarse texture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
In the food processor, add the onion, garlic, cilantro and parsley and blitz. Add to the chickpeas and fava beans and blend well.
Add the spices, salt, another teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and just enough olive oil if necessary to bind the mixture. Your falafel mix should not be too dry or wet.
Try and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before frying as this will make them easier to shape
Heat up enough vegetable oil for deep frying
Shape your falafel into golf sized balls or use a falafel scooper if you have one. Press them lightly into a plate of sesame seeds then deep fry until golden for about 7 minutes.
Serve with some tahini sauce and fresh pickles and vegetables in a wrap
Don't use canned chickpeas or fava beans as the mixture will be too wet
You can freeze any extra falafel mixture for frying later
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