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Day 127: Falafel


I love it when I learn how to make something I’ve never made before, especially when it’s dead easy, and even good for me.

I was grumpy when I got home. I didn’t have a plan for dinner. I wanted so badly to order Inglewood Pizza. As is often the case, my mind was changed by wilting produce – in this case a bunch of cilantro in the fridge that was worth about 58 cents. One of my biggest pet peeves is buying produce, letting it go slimy in the fridge, and throwing it in the compost bin.

I had the idea about a week ago to stuff a chicken with crumbled falafel, and the thought has been rattling around in my head ever since. I’ve only ever made falafel with a mix, so I looked up a recipe on epicurious. Turns out it’s as easy to make falafel as it is to make hummus. Of course – why wouldn’t it be? I just never really thought about it. This particular recipe called for fresh parsley and cilantro, and I just happened to have both. I’m sure you could get away with using either, or neither.

The recipe I used was a good one, all it required of the cook was a few pulses in the food processor, but we found it far too salty. (It called for a full teaspoon of salt, and canned beans are always saltier than dried – rinse them well to get rid of as much sodium as possible.) As I was patting myself on the back for making falafel from scratch in under 15 minutes, I came to the line: “Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.”


So as any sane person would do, I ignored it. The falafel turned out perfectly. They might have been better after a rest, who knows. I put out a plate of them with some whole wheat pita, tzatziki, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. They were too garlicky and salty for W, but worked for us. (The original recipe called for a full teaspoon of salt – in this version below I’ve cut it down to 1/4 tsp.)

(adapted from Epicurious, where it was reprinted from The Foods of Israel Today)

1 19 oz. (540 mL) can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 small onion, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch dried chili flakes
1/4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour (plus extra, if needed)
1 tsp. baking powder

canola oil, for frying

Put the chick peas, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, salt and chili flakes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined but not smooth. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until you have a soft mixture that you can roll into balls without sticking to your hands. Add another spoonful or so of flour, if you need to.

Roll the dough into meatball-sized balls, and if you like, flatten each into a little pattie. I like doing this for maximum surface area, which equals more crunch. (They also cook through more quickly as the distance between the middle to the exterior is shorter.)

In a shallow pot or skillet, heat about 1/2″ of canola oil until it’s hot but not smoking. Test it with a bit of falafel mixture or a scrap of bread – the oil should bubble up around it. Cook the falafel for a few minutes per side, without crowding the pan (which will cool down the oil), until they are golden. Transfer to paper towels. (You could get away with using just a skiff of oil – if you do this, best to leave the falafels round, so that you can roll them around in the pan to brown all sides.)

Serve in pitas with tzatziki, chopped cucumber, purple onion and tomato.

Makes about 20 falafel balls or patties.


Regular yogurt, preferably thick Greek yogurt, is far superior to the runny low fat or fat free varieties that are most commonly found at the grocery store. Even ‘full fat’ yogurts generally only contain about 3 grams per half cup, and it’s much more delicious and satisfying.

1 small English cucumber, unpeeled
1 – 2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups good quality plain yogurt, preferably Balkan-style
Salt & pepper to taste

Grate the cucumber with a box grater onto a double thickness of paper towel. Gather up the cucumber in the towel and squeeze out as much excess water as you can. (If you don’t mind runnier tzatziki, you can skip this step.)

Combine cucumber, garlic, yogurt, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir until well blended. If you like, add a squeeze or lemon. The garlic flavor will intensify the longer it sits.
Makes 2 1/2 – 3 cups.

Per 1/3 cup: 45 calories, 1 g total fat (0.6 g saturated fat, 0.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.1 g polyunsaturated fat), 3.5 g protein, 5.6 g carbohydrate, 3.7 mg cholesterol, 0.3 g fiber. 20% calories from fat.



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28 comments on “Day 127: Falafel

  1. Terri
    May 7, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Where is a good place to get ground lamb? The only resource that I have been able to come up with is Safeway. $8.00 for a 500 gram tube! ( frozen )

  2. Camryn
    May 7, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I love that you give reasons WHY you do things in recipes… like not crowding the pan to avoid cooling the oil.

    Any time a recipe says not to do something (“do not overmix muffin batter!”) but doesn’t give the reason, I want to do what it says NOT to do, just to find out why not (oh, you get tough muffins, yuck, good to know)

  3. Dana McCauley
    May 7, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I love fresh falafels. I haven’t made them in ages though since my husband is allergic to chick peas. Pity.

    I usually make a tahini sauce to go with my falafels. That’s super easy as well. Give it a try when you make falafels next time.

    And, when will you be using the falafels to stuff a chicken? Tomorrow? Can’t wait to hear how that turns out!

  4. JulieVR
    May 7, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    I always have tahini in the fridge for hummus, but have never been a huge fan of tahini sauce. Love garlicky tzatziki though! I look for excuses to eat it…

  5. JulieVR
    May 7, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I get frozen 1 lb. chubs at Superstore – $5. Safeway is pricey! Sunterra also has it in the fresh meat section.

  6. RSteve
    June 7, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Dana McCauley on 07 May 2008 wrote:”I haven’t made falafel in ages though since my husband is allergic to chick peas.”

    I’ve made falafel for over 40 years using fava beans. You can also substitute a combination of fava, great northern beans, and split yellow peas.

  7. S. Barker
    May 7, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    i like to press sesame seeds onto the outsides for a great crunch. also, chickpea flour instead of regular flour helps to boost the bean flavor, and makes them gluten-free.

  8. thebee
    May 7, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Hello there. I stumbled in here via Tastespotting. Those falafels look yummy. Will try my hand at making them also.

  9. Ruby
    May 8, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Thanks for an easy, appealing, and healthy recipe. I will be making these for a light dinner tonight for the family.

  10. Jeanine
    May 8, 2009 at 10:24 am

    These look DELICIOUS! I haven’t had a falafel in years, but have begun to crave them. And then I see your post. MUST HAVE NOW! 🙂 Thanks!

  11. CB
    March 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    When I buy cans of chick peas I usually end up with a mountain of hummus – now I have something else to try. Thanks!

  12. bobbinis-kitchen.com
    March 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Do you think one could make a low-fat variation of falafel in the oven or is the flavour that comes from frying essential?

    Greetings from Germany

  13. Katie @ goodLife {eats}
    March 19, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I love falafel but have never made it at home. Glad to have a recipe for it now. Thanks! Do you think they would freeze well?

  14. Adi (from Israel)
    March 24, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Falafel balls are slightly smaller than yours and round, like american meat balls, and the chick peas should not be so well smoothed, they should be a bit coarse…

  15. Richard
    April 6, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Have heard about falafels but have never made them! Will give them a try!!!

  16. ugod
    April 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I’m always going with dried chickpeas. Just put them in a bowl with water and let them soak overnight. Then they are ready for the food processor.

  17. Alonzo
    July 7, 2010 at 7:48 am

    If at all possible, you should always GRIND the mixture instead of processing it. This will help the final dough mixture to be more coarse and uniform. And you shouldn’t hand-shape the falafel; this will leave the inner texture overly-dense.

  18. Logan
    June 15, 2013 at 3:07 am

    Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring
    writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
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  19. Eric
    March 14, 2014 at 3:27 am

    These look amazing. Ive only made them from a box or gone to get them at a restaurant. Of course the best i ever had were in Israel, but these need to be made asap.

  20. Jenna
    May 31, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for the detailed instructions. These are super good! I’ve been trying to find a decent falafel ball recipe for ages and this is it. Thank you!

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  23. Rae
    April 23, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    This is absolutely yummy! It was easy to make as well. Thanks! I made up a vegan tzatziki sauce and it worked well.

  24. Hannah
    December 3, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Julie,
    Is it possible to bake these as opposed to frying, (Poor kitchen ventilation) and still get a crispy outside? Any recommendations on how?
    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Julie
      December 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

      Sure thing! brush with oil and bake at about 425 until they’re golden! not quite the same, but still tasty!

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