I love falafel. For me, the key to great falafel is the texture and the herbs and seasoning. I like my falafel with a fairly coarse texture, not mushy inside. And I love when you can taste the fresh herbs, and lots of them. So many times I’ve gone to a restaurant only to be disappointed by a fried ball of what seems to be a package mix. And while making homemade falafel takes some time and effort, it’s so worth it. Especially considering you can make a big batch and throw it in the freezer.
It’s super easy to just add a few falafel balls in your lunch salad in the morning, and by lunch time they’re thawed perfectly and ready to eat. If you want them for dinner or even as a snack, they only take a few minutes in the toaster oven to thaw and they’re ready to go.
This recipe makes a lot, about 3 dozen falafel the size of golf balls. If you want to split the recipe in half you can. But as I said earlier, they’re great to have in the freezer ready to go. You can fry them or bake them. I recommend baking not only for health reasons, but it also makes it much easier. If you fry them you have to watch them to make sure they cook evenly. You also have to monitor the oil level/temperature and with the size of this recipe there’s a lot of adding to the pan, draining, adding to the pan, draining. You get the point. Baking them allows you to cook several at a time without having to babysit them. The ones in the photo are fried, but I’ve made them several times since and baked them, and they’re just as delicious.
- 2 cups dry chickpeas
- 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 BIG handful parsley
- 1 BIG handful cilantro
- 4 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp. flax seeds
- 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
The day before: cover dried chickpeas with cold water and soak overnight or at least 8 hours.
The day of: in a small bowl, combine the bulgur and warm water, stir well and let sit for about an hour in order to soften up. Meanwhile drain the chickpeas well and grind in a food processor and set aside. Rinse out your food processor bowl to use for your onions and such.
Note: the chickpeas should be ground pretty finely, but not pureed. Remember, the chickpeas are not cooked, so they are still pretty firm and you don’t want to chomp down a big chunk of that and hurt your mouth.
Add the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro to your food processor and pulse until you have finely chopped mixture. Set aside.
In a small pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat until they begin to brown lightly. Keep an eye on these because they will burn quickly. You want to keep the sesame seeds constantly moving around in the hot pan. Once they are lightly browned, move them to a paper towel and let them cool.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chickpeas with the soaked bulgur, onion mixture, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, flax seeds, breadcrumbs, baking powder, salt, black and cayenne peppers. Mix well.
Starting with 2 tbsp., gradually mix in the flour until the mixture it is thick enough to form a firm ball. If the mixture is to thick, add a bit of water or if the mixture is to wet add a bit more flour.
Prepare two large baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or spraying them lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
If you have a small ice cream scoop, scoop out portions onto your lined baking sheet. If you do not have a small ice cream scoop, you can use two spoons. Using wet hands, gently roll each one and place on the parchment lined baking pans. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until browned, turning once half way through.
If you’re frying: heat approximately 1 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet until it is nearly smoking. You can test the oil temperature by placing the handle end of a wooden spoon in the oil. If it sizzles immediately you’re ready to go. Reduce the heat a bit and add enough of the falafel balls to fill the pan, being mindful not to overcrowd it. Fry each batch until golden brown, about 4 minutes per batch. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels or brown paper.
Serve the falafel tucked into a pita or wrapped in laffa bread along with any combination of lettuce, tomato, sour pickles, pickled beets, hot peppers, garlic cucumber yogurt sauce, tahini sauce and hot sauce.