Country of Origin: Egypt (also the Middle East)
TIME TO PREPARE: 10 MINUTES // TIME TO COOK: 30 MINUTES
Ingredients for Falafel - Makes 12-15 pieces of falafel
- 2 Cans of Chickpeas (they are sometimes called Garbanzo beans but are the same)
- 2 Tablespoons of Parsley (fresh is better if you can find it!)
- 2 Teaspoons of Cilantro (fresh is better if you can find it!)
- 4 Tablespoons of Flour
- 2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
- 2 Teaspoons of Cumin
- ½ Cup Chopped Red Onion (Basically one full red onion)
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 2 Teaspoons of Lemon Juice
- Special Equipment:
- Potato Masher – Can substitute with a fork
Ingredients for the Pita Sandwich
- 1 Packet of pitas - sliced in half to make pocket.
- 1Cucumber – Sliced
- 1 Tomato – Sliced
- Tzatziki sauce (store-bought or prepared)
- Hummus can substitute the Tzatziki and is also great!
Falafel is a ball of mashed chickpeas or (less commonly) fava beans and can be prepared in many ways. Normally falafel is deep-fried and I would often get it when ordering one of my favorite German fast foods, a döner (which is kind of like a Turkish gyro). I choose to bake it here because it’s healthier and easier to do but if you’re going for the street-food appeal, deep frying is the way to go as that is closer to “real” falafel anyway.
Falafel has a fairly ancient history given that it’s from the cradle of civilization, the Middle East. Most sources agree that it originally came from Egypt between 1000 and 1500 years ago but it quickly spread around the region and many groups claim to have “invented” this delicious fast food. Even the word origin, the etymology, of falafel is in dispute but one link could be ancient Aramaic (an old Middle Eastern language) that roughly translates to “rollers, little balls” (thank you Wikipedia).
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Israel and Israelis hold falafel near and dear to their hearts as well. Falafel gets the benefit of being a food you can eat under many religions (Christianity/Judaism/Islam). Falafel has been the source of some political controversy regarding who invented it at a national political level! It would be something similar to folks from Kansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee (and probably more) arguing who invented barbeque sauce because it’s so linked to their state identity.
In the past 50 years or so, falafel has spread quickly around the world (due largely in part to immigration and globalization) and you can often find it in most western countries throughout Europe and North America! It’s also very popular in the vegetarian community because it is high in protein. Come to think of it, this recipe happens to be even vegan!
I wasn’t lying when I mentioned that making falafel is super easy. The actual time consuming part is cutting and measuring the ingredients. You can do other stuff while it bakes. He’s a short step-by-step if you’re unable to watch the video above:
- Mix all falafel ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
- Mash the ingredients until there is a rough mix (don’t use a blender, you don’t want it too smooth!)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Celsius.
- Grab a baking tray and grease it.
- Roll the falafel mix into 1 to 1 ½ inch balls.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- While baking, cut the cucumber and tomato.
- Pull falafel out of oven and flip them over.
- Bake for an addition 10-15 minutes
- Pull falafel out to cool.
- While cooling, put the pita pockets in the oven for about 3 to 5 minutes to toast lightly.
- Build your falafel pita pocket! Add tzatziki or hummus for flavor. I cheated and tried some sriracha too and it was delicious!
I also found that the falafel was perfect to take to the park or even make a breakfast burrito with. Naturally you’re exiting the “authentic experience” zone BUT you already had your perfect pita earlier right?
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Instructions and video by Ian Magnuson