Middle East

Falafels, with Israeli salad, Tarator and yogurt sauce.

Mmmm Falafel! These delightful Arabic fried balls, crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, made from ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or fava beans and spices. Yes, this is torrid, and you will soon learn how to make those healthy vegan fritters.

Originating from Egypt known as ‘taamiya’ in Cairo dialect and firstly made with fava beans, Falafel has been re-appropriated by middle eastern cuisine who preferred to use chickpeas instead of the original beans. Pha-la-phel, meaning “of many beans” in Coptic Egyptian language, is a high-quality protein, essential minerals, carbohydrates and fiber source that is low in fat and cholesterol. It is now an healthy nutritious street food sometimes eaten as a substitute for meat  during Lent, or as part of the iftar, the daily meal that breaks the fast after sunset during Ramadan.

With a controversial history, Falafel has been in the spotlight of a cultural food war between countries claiming the meal as its national food. Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese? The only certain thing is that it is extremely popular all over Middle East, and beyond.

Falafels, with Israeli salad, Tarator and yogurt sauce.

Falafels, with Israeli salad, Tarator and yogurt sauce.

Servings: 30-34 falafels
Notes: Vegetarian, Lactose-Free, Gluten-Free, Kosher Parve

To start making your own delicious Falafels, you will need…
(recipe from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

  • 450 grams (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans, soaked in water overnight 
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon rice or buckwheat flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • Vegetable oil for frying (high smoke point oil like grapeseed, canola, or peanut oil)

How to get there…

  • Soak chickpeas in a large bowl overnight, covered by about 3 inches of cold water. Soaking helps the chickpeas being more easy to digest. They will also double in size, letting you with 4-5 cups of beans after soaking.
  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Pour into a food processor, and add the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom.
  • Pulse all ingredients together. You want it to have a rough coarse meal texture. To help all the ingredients being processed correctly, scrape the sides of the food processor to push the mixture down. The mixture need to be between the texture of couscous but with the consistency of a paste, so everything hold together. Don’t over process it, as you want some rough pieces to remain. You want something that will be malleable, but not a hummus.
  • Once you are satisfied with the consistency of the mixture, pour it out into a bowl and stir with a fork. Remove any large chickpea chunks.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

*Option is to add baking soda to the mix to lighten up the texture inside the falafel balls. It is not necessary, but if you want it fluffier, simply dissolve 2 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 tablespoon of water and mix it into the falafel mixture after it has been refrigerated.

  • Fill a skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of around 4 cm (1-2 inches). Ideally, use a cooking oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed oil. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, form round ball with falafel mixture using wet hands or a falafel scoop. Usually, 1 falafel ball is equivalent to 2 tablespoon of mixture, but the size is depending on your personal preference. The balls might stick together when you will shape them. Everything will bind correctly during the frying.

*If the balls doesn’t hold together correctly, place the mixture back in the food processor again and process it until you get a more paste-like consistency. The balls will be delicate at first until you get them into the hot oil. Remember to hold them carefully. If they doesn’t hold together, try adding 2-3 tablespoon of corn flour to the mixture.

  • Before frying your first falafel balls, test if the oil is at the right temperature by putting one ball in the center of the pan. It is normally supposed to take 2-3 minutes per side to brown, or 5-6 minutes total. You don’t want your oil to hot. If it happens, your falafel balls will browns too fast, and thus will not be fully cooked in the center.
  • Adjust the temperature of your oil and start frying falafels in batches of 5-6 at a time until golden brown on both sides.
  • Remove the falafels from the oil with a slotted spoon once perfectly fried.
  • Allow them to drain on paper towels.
  • Do the same steps again with the other batches of falafel balls.
  • Serve fresh and hot, with Israeli salad, Tarator sauce or Yogurt sauce. 


For the Israeli salad:

Simply chop some plum tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, parsley, fresh mint leaves, fresh dill, combine together, and add olive oil, lemon juice salt and pepper. The quantity of each ingredients is depending on your preference. I usually use 1/2 cucumber per serving.


For the Tarator sauce:

  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoon tahini, well stirred
  • 4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cayenne (optional, to taste)
  • Pink Himalayan or Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, for garnish

In a food processor, purée the pine nuts and garlic until they reach a paste consistency. Add the tahini and lemon juice, process until well combined. With the machine running, mix in cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the sauce get to a cream consistency. Add olive oil, cayenne, salt and pepper, process one more time to combine all ingredients. Refrigerate 1h before serving. Serve with parsley or cilantro on top.


For the yogurt sauce, or “white sauce”:

1 lactose free yogurt
1 teaspoon non-dairy cream
1 garlic clove
fresh lemon juice, to taste
fresh mint or chives, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
a bit of water, to thin
Simply whisk everything together and refrigerate for 1h before serving.

2 thoughts on “Falafels, with Israeli salad, Tarator and yogurt sauce.

    • I totally fell in love with this recipe. It is crazy good and so healthy at the same time. To stay “dairy-free”, the Tarator sauce is the perfect option (creamy, yum, and no dairy is used). It is also possible to use soy yogurt in the “white sauce” as well. Enjoy!

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