Falafel are delicious little balls of sunshine. They are rich, grainy, savory, and filled with loads of fresh herbs and spices. Best of all, this falafel recipe comes with two different sauces: a tahini sauce and a dill sauce that enhances the flavor of these little balls of heaven even more.
What is Falafel?
Falafel is like the vegan fast food of the Middle East. It consists of chickpeas, herbs, and spices that are ground to a coarse mixture and shaped into small patties or balls.
Egypt is believed to have been the birthplace of falafel. Coptic Christians were in search of a filling replacement for meat during lent and as a result invented the falafel recipe we all know and love today.
Different Shapes of Falafel
Falafel comes in all shapes and sizes. Traditionally falafel was served in a ball shape which made it easier to eat with the hands and roll up inside a piece of bread. Nowadays, however, you can make falafel in many different shapes. Depending on how you’re cooking it or how you plan to serve it, there are three main shapes for your falafel;
Round Shape: This shape is the traditional ball shape. You can easily make this shape by using your hands and rolling some of the mixture enough times that it creates a smooth round shape. You can also use an ice cream scoop or a falafel scoop to create this shape. The round or ball shape is great if the recipe calls for deep-frying.
Oval Shape: An oval shape falafel is flatter and longer than the traditional round shape. Again, this shape can easily be made by hand but may be time-consuming as the consistency in shape may be hard to achieve. You can use different everyday utensils such as big spoons to create this shape. You can also easily find falafel makers that allow you to make the oval shape. This shape is great for deep-frying, baking, or even shallow frying.
Flat Shapes: Nowadays, whenever you come across falafel in the western world, you’ll most likely find them in flat round, or oval shapes. These flat shapes are made using different falafel makers that are easily available online and in stores. Falafel makers are small tools that you stuff the mixture in and press to make the flat shape. Flat shapes are great for baking in the oven or shallow frying. While you can deep-fry them as well, they are more suited to the other methods.
Tips For Making Falafel
For the most authentic falafel use dry chickpeas. While you have to soak the chickpeas in water for 24 hours it is best to wait for them to dry out before using them as that creates the best flavor.
Additionally, dry chickpeas will also give the falafel a great texture since they are starchy and will prevent the falafel from falling apart.
Mix the baking powder into the falafel batter just before you shape them into patties. This will give the falafel a fluffy texture. To test the oil’s temperature, fry a single falafel first to ensure the oil is at the correct temperature.
This is what happens when you use canned chickpeas to make your falafel
Using canned chickpeas or adding too much liquid to your falafel is a very bad idea. Your hard work and delicious fresh ingredients will fall apart when you fry them, see the video below on how I learned my lesson!
The key to making authentic falafel is to use quality ingredients.
Chickpeas: As I mentioned, it’s very important to use dry chickpeas. However, you can also use dried fava beans in place of chickpeas if you do not like chickpeas.
Herbs: Fresh herbs give the falafel batter its green color. They also give the falafel a fresh burst of flavor.
Baking Soda: Baking soda helps the beans soften faster.
Aromatics: I used white onions, garlic, and green bell peppers. Aromatics add a savory flavor to the falafel. You can also use yellow or red onions.
Salt And Pepper: Salt and pepper add flavor to the falafel and enhance the taste.
Spices: I used cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. These spices give the falafel a robust flavor.
Baking Powder: Baking powder gives the falafel a fluffy, airy texture and prevents them from being dense.
Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds add a nutty flavor to the falafel.
Oil: Do not use olive oil to fry the falafel as it has a low smoke point. Therefore, it will burn and give the falafel a bitter taste. Use a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable, avocado, or canola oil.
Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is the base of the dill sauce and provides a tangy, creamy flavor to the dill sauce.
Dill: Dill adds a bright, sweet flavor to the Greek yogurt and livens up the sauce.
Lemon Juice: Lemon juice adds a bright, citrusy flavor to the dill sauce. It also adds a zippy flavor to the tahini sauce, which sends it over the top.
Olive Oil: Olive oil helps enhance the flavor of the dill sauce. Olive oil also helps emulsify the tahini sauce.
Shallots: Shallots add a mildly sweet flavor to the dill sauce and help balance out the tangy flavor.
Tahini: Tahini is the base of the tahini sauce and provides a nutty flavor that complements the flavor of the falafel beautifully.
Water: Water helps loosen up the tahini sauce and gives it a pourable consistency.
Can I air fry Falafel?
Yes, you can! If you’re looking for a healthier way of making falafel, you can always use your trusted air fryer. Round, flat, or oval-shaped falafel will air-fry very nicely and give you an even crisper outer shell. You can check out my AIR-FRIED LEMONY FALAFEL which is another super easy recipe.
What is the best temperature to air fry Falafel?
375°F is the best temperature to air fry your falafel in. It will ensure that they are warmed all the way through and it is also enough time for them to develop a crispy and golden outer shell.
Can I bake Falafel instead of frying it?
Of course, you can. Flatter shapes of falafel will work better if you want to bake them as it will ensure an even cook. Simply place your finished falafel on a lined baking sheet and put them in the oven. The oven temperature should be at 375°F and you will only need to bake them for about 10-12 minutes or until they are brown and crispy.
What does Falafel taste like?
Apart from being packed with many micronutrients, falafel are also a delicious way to get your daily dose of fiber and protein. Falafel has a crispy outer shell with a soft inside. It has a grainy texture which has a rich herbaceous and savory flavor.
What is the best oil to use for frying Falafel?
Oils with a low smoke point are great for deep frying falafel. Avocado Oil or Peanut Oil is a great option since they have a low smoke point and allow the falafel to develop a crispy and golden brown outer shell. If you use an oil with a high smoke point, the flavor of the falafel will taste burnt.
How can I prevent my Falafel from falling apart when frying?
This is a common concern for a lot of people making falafel at home. If your falafel are breaking up when you deep fry, bake, or air fry them, then it means your mixture was too wet. Make sure you are allowing the chickpeas to dry out as much as possible before adding them to the mixture. If the chickpeas have even a little bit of water in them, the mixture will be wet, and your falafel will break apart while cooking.
How to serve Falafel?
Traditionally falafel is served inside pita bread with some salad and sauce. The sauce can be tahini sauce, hummus, or any other type of dipping sauce. Nowadays you’ll find falafel served in many different ways. Some popular ways include:
As a burger: Falafel can be served as a great meat replacement in burgers. The patty is usually served inside a burger bun with all the fixings.
Taboulé salad: This is a Lebanese dish that traditionally includes parsley, tomatoes, mint, bulgur, and onion. This salad is usually served with falafel on the side or with the falafel mixed in.
With Hummus: Falafel makes a great addition to hummus. It can be mixed in or served as a side dish.
As an appetizer: Small bite-sized falafel are perfect appetizers. They can be baked or fried and served with dipping sauces on the side.
In a wrap with salad: A delicious way to enjoy falafel is by wrapping it up in some flatbread with salad and dipping sauces.
On top of a salad: Falafel makes a great salad topper. You can add some crispy falafel on top of your greens and enjoy a healthy low-carb and filling meal.
Inside a pita bread: As I mentioned before, one of the classic ways to enjoy falafel is by stuffing it inside some pita bread with salad and tahini or dill sauce.
Mezze: Falafel is often served as part of a mezze appetizer platter. This is a selection of small dishes that are served before the main meal. A mezze platter usually consists of hummus, tzatziki, olives, and pita bread. It can also include other dishes such as dolma (stuffed vine leaves), eggplant salad (baba ghanoush), and various types of dips.
No matter how you choose to serve it, falafel makes for a great healthy meal or snack!
More delicious Recipes
Delicious Falafel Recipe: Make Your Own Falafel at Home!
For the Falafel
- 2 cups dried chickpeas
- 3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, stems removed
- 3/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, stems removed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 4-6 cups oil (for frying)
For the Dill Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
For the Tahini Sauce
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup Tahini
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
- Put the dried chickpeas into a large bowl.
- Add enough water to cover the chickpeas, it should be at least 2 inches above the chickpeas. Soak the chickpeas for 18-24 hours and once the time has passed, drain and place in a kitchen towel to dry out.
- Place half of the chickpeas, cilantro, parsley, white onion, garlic cloves, salt, cumin, coriander, black pepper, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, baking powder into a food processor outfitted with the blade attachment. Pulse the chickpea and herb mixture until it resembles coarse grains of sand. Then add the rest of the chickpeas.
- Place the falafel batter into a bowl and cover it tightly with a plastic wrap. Refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Wet your hands with a little water and scoop a tablespoon of the falafel batter into your hands. Shape the patty in any shape you desire but keep the thickness to 1/2-inch.
- Place each shaped falafel onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and continue scooping and shaping the rest of the batter until all of it s gone.
- Place the oil into a deep skillet, set it over medium heat, and let it reach 350°F.
- Carefully lower 4-5 falafel into the oil and fry them for 3-5 minutes or until they are crispy and golden-brown.
- Drain the falafel on a paper towel-lined plate and continue frying the rest of the shaped falafel.
- To make the dill sauce, whisk the Greek yogurt, dill, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, shallots, and pepper in a bowl until combined.
- To make the tahini sauce, whisk the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, salt, and water it is thoroughly combined.
- Place the falafel onto a platter along with the dill sauce and the tahini sauce.
- Serve and enjoy!